The Madison Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) was chartered on September 14, 1953, as the outgrowth of work which began in June 1947 by Ruth Pilger Andrews, Paul Jones, and others, meeting as the Wisconsin Association of Church Musicians. WACM held annual hymn and choir festivals and organ recitals; its major legacy was the establishment in 1949 of the Louise Fulcher Memorial Library, an extensive catalog of organ and choral music now part of the Fulcher-Scidmore Sacred Music Collection. Housed at the Janesville (WI) Public Library for many years, the collection’s current home is at Rock Prairie United Presbyterian Church in Janesville.
In 1984, with the encouragement of Edward Hugdahl of the UW-Extension, the Madison Chapter AGO was reorganized as the Association of Church Musicians, a broad-based group designed to attract church musicians of every interest and at every proficiency level, and to involve churches themselves in their musicians’ ongoing education by encouraging church memberships in addition to Chapter AGO dues. More than 200 churches in 58 communities in south-central Wisconsin and northern Illinois have joined the ACM since its inception.
ACM publishes a newsletter called Church Music Notes, maintains a library of audio and video tapes and books, and has a placement and substitute service available to members. The ACM continues in its dual role as the Madison Chapter of the AGO for those interested in AGO activities, and from 1989 – 2016, it was also the umbrella organization for the Madison Chapter of the Choristers Guild.
ACM administers the Ruth Pilger Andrews Fund, an endowed scholarship fund established in recognition of one of the Madison Chapter’s founders.