Connecting Through Mothers

In anticipation of Lisa Hancock’s “Natural Mothers” photo exhibit that will be on display in BMPC’s Gallery beginning on March 3, I felt it might be nice to explain how this particular exhibit came together, as it has an incredibly personal connection to my work as a church musician and the path my husband and I took to fatherhood.

I attended the St. Thomas Choir School in New York City as a young boy. Daily rehearsals and services were a major part of my life, as well as rigorous academics, instrumental lessons, and living in one of the most wonderful cities in the world. Gerre Hancock was the Director of Music at St. Thomas Church and a household name in the world of church music and organ improvisation. His wife, Judith Hancock, was the Associate Director of Music and an equally fabulous organist and musician in her own right. These wonderful people helped me find my path and calling to become a church musician. I kept in touch with the Hancocks after my years at the Choir School. After Gerre died in 2012, I forged an even closer and special relationship with Judy as she maintained an interest in my growing repertoire, church work, and personal life.

I knew the Hancocks had two wonderful daughters, Lisa and Debbie. Still, I never connected with them until this past year when they helped arrange for me to visit their mom in a memory care facility in Connecticut, where she now resides. Seeing someone who was such a force and inspiration to me struggling with Alzheimer’s is tragic, but her bright eyes, warm smile, and memories of me as a young boy were a special part of our visit this past April. Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Lisa and feel so pleased to have found a way to support and showcase her stunning photography in BMPC’s Gallery.

“Natural Mothers” is particularly poignant in my home life as the birth mother of my adopted children recently passed away in a tragic house fire. Their mother was the one person who was not actively involved in our open adoption and blended family, but she is the person who brought the twins into this world and, therefore, someone we talk about regularly. The world of foster care is messy, and while there are situations that turn out beautifully, they are not without heartbreak for others involved (so often the birth parents). Seeing these foster care moments caught in still photography is a wonderful way to pause and think about the good things in your life you take for granted and situations you will never find yourself in.

Lisa Hancock will be in the Gallery before and after the 10 a.m. worship service on March 3 to meet anyone who passes through the exhibit.



 Photo with Judy Hancock (age 88) in April of 2023. One of the many mothers in my life.