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Dry Desert
St. Paul's Manna Blog

He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna... in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
(Deuteronomy 8:3)

NRSV: Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.


CEB: Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.


The NRSV is the New Revised Standard Version, which is the academic standard for biblical translation. The Common English Bible is a more accessible translation. Both are approved for use during worship in the Episcopal Church.

NRSV: For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.


CEB: God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes.


The NRSV is the New Revised Standard Version, which is the academic standard for biblical translation. The Common English Bible is a more accessible translation. Both are approved for use during worship in the Episcopal Church.

Updated: Apr 11

Since November, we've been discerning as a community whether we want to combine our two Sunday services into one.


Our volunteers who make worship happen are tired. We have fewer people for each role than we had in the past.


But our two different service times are spiritually fulfilling in different ways, with 8am more meditative and 10:15am more lively. Some people like being able to worship early and have the whole day in front of them. Others struggle to get their families to church before 10am.


I'm excited to share with you the plan that the vestry and I came up with! Instead of changing when we do worship, we're going to change how we do worship.


What's Changing?


For many of the worship leader roles, we will stop scheduling volunteers in advance. We want to take down some of the barriers. Instead, we want everyone to participate in leading worship.


We will still schedule:

  • officiants/preachers,

  • Eucharistic Ministers,

  • Altar Guild,

  • flowers,

  • bread bakers,

  • tech team,

  • and counters.


These are the roles that need specialty training and/or advance preparation.


But the following roles will be unscheduled, filled by anyone who wants to help lead that service:

  • readers,

  • intercessors (Prayers of the People),

  • ushers,

  • and acolytes (crucifers, servers, and torches).


If you're one of our current acolytes etc, you're encouraged to continue in your role. But if you've never held one of these roles, we hope you'll also step in and volunteer!


We'll switch to this model starting Sunday, April 14. We'll try it through the remainder of the program year and the summer, then reevaluate in the fall.



How Will It Work?


Here's what we came up with, though we'll also make adjustments as we go.


There will be a posterboard in the entryway of the church with colored nametags on it. But instead of names, it will have roles. The acolyte tags will be green, say, with CRUCIFER, SERVER, and two TORCH ones. If you're open to carrying the cross that day, you grab the green CRUCIFER tag. Before the service, meet the rest of the leadership team in the sacristy.


Never been crucifer before? That's great! I'm excited to fumble through it with you, and we'll give each other lots of space for mistakes. Visiting St. Paul's for the first time and want to read the prayers? Sure, just grab the binder and come up to the mic when it's time!


For now, we're going to say that these volunteer roles won't wear robes. You'll come forward to do your bit, and then you can go back and sit in the pews.


If no one grabs the "crucifer" name tag for that service, we'll worship without the crucifer. If no one grabs the "reader" or "intercessor" name tag, the officiant will read the readings or prayers.


Don't Those Roles Matter?


Yes! Communal worship is one of the holiest things we can do with our time, and leading it is a special honor. We will continue to take the leadership of worship at St. Paul's very seriously.


We can have worship without an intercessor or torches. And, at the same time, if no one wants to step into those roles, we'll have worship without them. Being without those roles for a service or two will highlight exactly how much they add to our communal worship.


The dearest hope of the vestry is that we'll have more volunteers to lead worship, not fewer. We hope that if you've never been an acolyte or an usher, you'll accept our invitation to try something new. And if you've held one of these roles for years, we hope you'll continue to serve in that role and take it upon yourself to help others find their way.


What's the Same?


We'll still worship at 8am and 10:15am on Sunday mornings—and combine into one service at 9am in the summer. We'll still do Rite I at 8am with no music and Rite II at 10:15am with music. Formation hour will continue between the two services.


We'll still have Morning Prayer two Sundays a month, with Holy Eucharist the other Sundays.


We'll still schedule worship leadership roles for the major feasts of Christmas and Easter.



Conclusion


At the Annual Meeting, many of you who were in favor of combining into one service talked of being brave. Society is changing, and church is changing with it. We need to be willing to try new things, even when they're uncomfortable.


We realize that this is a probably different kind of uncomfortable than you were envisioning.


The vestry and I thought that combining to one service took away too much of the different character of the two worship times. We're excited to be able to preserve that. And we're trusting that each person who values worship at St. Paul's will step forward from time to time to help us create it.


Thank you so much to everyone who reflected on this, emailed me, shared their thoughts with the vestry, and spoke at the Annual Meeting. The vestry and I were grateful for this opportunity to reflect together on our communal life.


We're excited to try out this new model with you.

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