On Worship

September 2009 – Rector’s Ruminations

Shortly after the beginning of the summer a rather detailed Worship Survey consisting of 54 questions was sent to all members of the parish.  The Worship Committee received 61 responses and published the results to include comments made by individuals regarding the content, structure and style of our worship services here at Emmanuel.

On Sunday, August 30th, Cheryl Danskin, Coordinator of Children/Youth Ministry and the compiler and collator of the Worship Survey gave an overview of the responses and a summary of what we heard concerning the involvement of young persons in our liturgy.  She was followed by Marianne Lewis, Chair of the Worship Committee and our organist choirmaster, who pulled together your thoughts and ideas about music as an integral part of our worship.  I concluded with a summary of what we heard concerning the liturgies, preaching, teaching and related items such as the labyrinth, the window behind the altar and Stations of the Cross.

As was mentioned, the Worship Committee was pleased by both the number and quality of the responses.  In short, we appreciated the affirmation that was expressed.  Most of you feel that what we do on Sunday mornings and how we do it is spiritually meaningful and does not require major change.   Specifically, you want to keep our current worship schedule to include combining services at nine in the morning on the first Sunday of the month.  There was general agreement on maintaining the shape and flow of our liturgies, the need to have some innovation while honoring that which is familiar and traditional.  Most felt that the choice of music was balanced with several persons saying that additional instrumental music would be a positive addition.  Almost all persons noted how fortunate we are to have Marianne and the talent and dedication she brings to her ministry here at Emmanuel.

Regarding sermons, I appreciated the affirmation and will continue to incorporate occasional visiting preachers and speakers.  Concerning announcements, most of you feel that the place in the service (between the liturgy of the Word and Table) is best and the length of announcement time is about right.

Relative to where we worship, most persons prefer to worship in our sanctuary, but there was a call for other locations, e.g., outdoors and the Parish Hall.

There was a division of opinion on having a window behind the altar, but interest in changing/varying the dossal (curtain) behind the altar.  Given this difference of opinion, we shall not install a window at this time but will change the dossal.

Similarly there was a division of opinion regarding if and how we should use Stations of the Cross as an aid in worship.  Given this difference, we shall have Stations of the Cross placed on the church grounds on a seasonal basis as we did during Lent this past year.

Regarding a permanent labyrinth, most everyone recognized how our current labyrinth has been an important source of outreach and evangelism to the larger community.  The Vestry endorsed the idea of a permanent labyrinth and asked the Labyrinth Committee to submit proposals for the design with implementation planned for next spring.

There were several helpful comments regarding how we can make our worship services more “user friendly” and welcoming to visitors and rethinking what we might do with our coffee hour.

In conclusion, the Worship Committee felt that our worship services are meeting religious and spiritual needs of most of the members of our parish family.  The old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might well serve as a summary of what we heard.  On the other hand “if it ain’t broke…” might well be the time to improve and enhance our worship life together.

I want to thank all of you who responded for your thoughtful and helpful remarks and express my appreciation to the Worship committee for their ideas and oversight of this project.

Finally my appreciation to Marianne for her leadership role on the Worship Committee and Cheryl’s time, effort and expertise in developing the survey and compiling the results.

Worship is not a part of the Christian life; it is The Christian Life.


By Bishop Craig B. Anderson

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