Steve Petrunak, New NPM President, Hits It Out of the Ballpark

“I’m Steve Petrunak, and I’m a member of NPM.”

And so it began – a speech that will surely go down in the annals of NPM as a game-changer.

The occasion was the members’ meeting of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, recently concluded in Cincinnatti. On stage, and under the microscope (“whaddaya think of this new guy??”) was Steve Petrunak, new NPM president.

Steve PetrunakSteve took a risk – a big risk – with this speech, and I think he pulled it off. Splendidly.

“Let me speak honestly,” Steve said more than once. No sugarcoating, no euphemisms, no pretending. Honesty – raw honesty. Which implicitly says to people “I trust you. You can handle it.”

Before it was over, the talk succeeded in exuding excitement, promise, and hope.

But to get there, Steve first got honest about everything. Declining membership – nearly half what it was once; weak digital outreach – an old website “littered with old and outdated information”; weak financials that “some would call a crisis” (Steve disagrees); and so forth.

But Steve’s emphasis was on the many new and exciting developments – a new editor of print and digital publications, a new website, new people working on the website, a new conference concept, a new capital campaign fund, new solicitation of donors, new membership initiatives, and on and on.

Here’s vintage Petrunak, as he brought his conclusion to a crescendo:

We can make a difference, when we all pull together… This is a time of transformation for our Church and association, as it was when NPM began. It’s a time for us to be committed, to be bold, to be nothing less than disciples.

I’m Steve Petrunak, and I’m a hopeful member of NPM.

 And then, applause. Applause that went on and on and on. I think the membership is energized.

Watch the video here.

13:29 Steve’s talk begins
18:56 Membership information
34:16 Convention plans – including Bishop Caggiano and James Martin SJ!
38:15 Digital presence
39:08 Membership plans
44:56 The new website
52:37 Finances and development
1:02:10 The Mark C. Kulyk story





  1. I was in attendance for this speech and most of the Convention. The excitement is palpable. He is a great hire at the right time. But it is up to us to respond!

  2. I am so deeply grateful for Stephen’s new leadership of NPM. In a time when people working in ministry are frequently in denial about the problems in the church on the one hand or expert at continually rehearsing those problems on the other, Stephen offered a raw honest assessment of the present moment while resisting the sin of cynicism that so often accompanies it. It is so rare. It takes wisdom, skill, pastoral insight, and imagination. Most importantly, it takes discipleship. As a young(er) member of NPM and as someone who has grown so weary of the paralyzing force of nostalgia for a distant or recent past (I don’t think the Holy Spirit peaked in the sixteenth century or the 1980’s), I am so deeply grateful for his articulation of that hope. And as an equally hopeful member of NPM, I enthusiastically embrace the challenges Stephen posed to our membership.

  3. I was present for the speech. I also oversee the San Antonio Chapter weekly blog, so I forwarded the information to the 1200 members… a few let me know immediately that their parishes remained committed members of NPM. One emailed to let me know that he had finally joined NPM after watching the livestream… yeah, we’re excited…

  4. I was also at the NPM Convention for Stephen’s speech. I am greatful for his leadership and know he is doing a great job already. He will bring us forward. I was shocked to hear the percentage of declining membership.
    I believe a reaching out to each and every parish pastor, administrator and finance council describing the importance of NPM and that they not only become members but help to or fully finance their music ministers attendance at the Conventions.
    I for one would like to see more Pastors, priests and deacons attending the Conventions and being part of the NPM Family.
    Thank you Stephen for all you have done already looking forward to the future and you as leader

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