Whole lotta liturgy goin’ on…

It is a creative time in churches around the Anglican Communion. From Bethlehem, PA to Seattle, WA to Coventry UK, a variety of liturgical experiences are being offered. Some come from emergent churches others from churches looking to expand the message of the Gospel to various groups. U2 Eucharists and Beatles Masses have been around for awhile but here are some new ideas:

A few weeks ago The Lead reported on Goth Eucharist in the Diocese of Bethlehem. Now the Diocese of Olympia (Washington state) is offering a SmiteFest. The web site says:

The Challenge: Episcopal churches throughout the Diocese of Olympia have been challenged to send their Rock Band players to SmiteFest, where they will go head to head against each other in an Episcopalian vs Episcopalian shred-off — loser has to attend the winner’s church within the next 30 days.

Will there be churchy stuff? Not at SmiteFest, though at 7:00 one of Redeemer’s more medieval services — Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament — takes place upstairs in the Nave. If you’re interested in chanting, incense, meditation, and readings from 4th-century mystics, come on up.

Bishop Greg Rickel on youtube says a few words:

Ekklesia reports on The Archbishop of Canterbury leading an Advent day of prayer and pilgrimage involving drumbeats and electronic presentations beamed onto large screens around Coventry Cathedral.

The day was aimed at cementing links between Fresh Expressions and the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. Over 500 pilgrims joined Dr Williams, including the bishops of Coventry, Pontefract and Reading. Bishops, clergy and laity began the pilgrimage to the sound of a deep drumbeat as baptism vows were renewed.

Not all of these services are from the “emergent church” but that movement is part of the creative leadership in worship that reaches beyond church as we have known it.

Tom Brackett at Church Planting Central reports on a recent meeting in Memphis of Emergent Episcopalians:

This last weekend, dozens of Episcopalians came together in Memphis for a unique conversation about some of the new realities emerging in our Church. In well-organized fashion, Emergent Village and roughly 20 presenters, 10 sponsors and several organizers brought them together with 200 more attendees in a gathering advertised as “The Great Emergence.” At least 23 denominations and movements came to the Cathedral of St Mary in Memphis to explore what it means to be part of “Emerging” Christianity in the United States.

From the start, the event modeled a “both/and” approach to a wide spectrum of theological and liturgical sensibilities.


Presentations included video and Powerpoints followed by a speed dating style of Q and A where practitioners hosted a rapid rotation of small groups in interactive sessions. Much of the Conference’s energy was focused through the lens of Phyllis Tickle’s recently released book, The Great Emergence. Phyllis (and her husband Sam) added a sense of hopeful curiosity to plenary sessions exploring key questions such as, “Where now is our authority?” and “How do we partner with the work of the Spirit in a world no longer wedded to Modernity and its assumptions?” Phyllis repeatedly called on Bishop Mark Dyer’s image of the church hosting a giant “Rummage Sale” every 500 years – a sale where that which no longer serves the work of the Spirit is cleared away to make room for fresh expressions of ministry. Participants were invited to explore what the church might be letting go of, for the sake of new life.

Terry Martin, Evangelism Officer for the Episcopal Church Center has more reporting and photos from the meeting at his blog Father T Listens to the World.

There are multiple experiments in liturgy and church happening these days. Some go back to ancient modes of worship, some seem all new, from ancient chant to VNV Nations’ “Creation.” What have you experienced in liturgy recently? What are your thoughts?

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