Friday, December 02, 2005

Because you Asked

• Act of Ministry – New 9:00 Communion Service
• Identification of need
o xxxxxx UMC is a very active and diverse congregation. We have gained 750 new members in 4 years. Many of our services are overcrowded. As we grow, our needs are evolving. There are many ways we are taking care of the over-crowding. First, we are building a new building which will be open before January 2006. Secondly, we are look at ways to expand our worship. There are several ideas bouncing around.
- 9:00 Communion Service in new Chapel
- 5:00 Prayer Service Sunday night for older Adults, Camp meeting style
- Clone the 11:00 worship service. One 11:00 service will be a blended service in the new worship space where the 9:39 service is being held. The new service will be a traditional service in the Sanctuary.
- 7:00 Saturday Night service with an African-American flavor.
- The only one of these 4 that has been seen as feasible at the moment is the 9:00 Communion Service.

o United Methodist stance on the Communion service: The authors the document released earlier this year, “This Holy Mystery,” start their work of many years and interviews with a story:
- The story is told of a little girl whose parents had taken her forward to receive Holy Communion. Disappointed with the small piece of bread she was given to dip in the cup, the child cried loudly, “I want more! I want more!” While embarrassing to her parents and amusing to the pastor and congregation, this little girl’s cry accurately expresses the feelings of many contemporary United Methodist people. We want more! We want more than we are receiving from the sacrament of Holy Communion as it is practiced in our churches.

o xxxxxxx UMC’s stance on the communion service: Our church does indeed want more. One of the things we are contemplating is a regular weekly communion service. This fits well with the Wesleyan teaching. John Wesley believed that the Lord’s Supper should be taken as often as practicable. He taught and Methodists believe that Communion is a powerful means in which God’s divine grace is conferred to His people. John and Charles wrote in their sermons and hymns of the wonderful love, grace, sacrifice, and forgiveness present for God’s people in communion, about the presence of Christ, mystery, healing, nourishment, and holiness. In a smaller church offering communion once a week might be onerous, but in a church the size of xxxxxxx it is something we are committed to.

• Ministry Goal – xxxxxxx UMC is thus developing a 9:00 am Sunday Communion Service in the Heritage Chapel.
o This service will run concurrently with the 8:30 worship service in the Sanctuary and therefore will have special needs to be addressed, as resources will not be able to be shared. It is meant primarily for persons who will be attending Sunday School at 9:45 or the Contemporary service at 9:39, not for the members of the 8:30 service. We are anticipating 30 to 70 persons. If we have more than that, a second service can be added at 12:15 or 12:30 after the 11:00 service. xxxxxx, the senior pastor will be preaching in the sanctuary therefore the celebrant for the communion service will be selected in a rotation between myself, Pastors A, B and C. Once a month communion will be served simultaneously in the Sanctuary and the Chapel, causing certain logistics problem.
- We will need at least one other Chalice and paten, if communion is being served by intinction. The communionware of individual cups is available for use currently.
- We will need another set of white paraments, as the paraments from the chapel are now being used in the main sanctuary along with more napkins.
- Currently because we need 4 servers at the 8:30 and a celebrant and a chalice bearer in the 9:00, we need to consider a new Lay Eucharist Minister guild and training consisting of approximately 4 to 6 members. They may need albs/robes eventually.
- The communion stewards who prepare the elements need to set up a schedule for baking bread and providing the juice and clean up afterwards for every Sunday.
- The altar guild will need at least one additional member each Sunday to prepare the Chapel for use and to clean up. Because we will be using three separate spaces on Sunday instead of one, we may need at least three altar guild members.
- An order of service needs to be written that will fit within the time constraint of 30 to 35 minutes.
- An accompanist and/or musician will need to be scheduled.
- And acolyte will need to be scheduled.
- The offering plates from the chapel need to be located, as does the altar cross and candles. New oil filled candled need to be ordered, as the old ones broke. The acolytes’ candlelighter that was in the chapel needs to be located. The baptismal font needs to be found, as well. (In other words, the chancel needs to be set up officially. Will the space need to be consecrated?)

o The flow of the service.
- The Chapel doors will open at 8:30 to allow for a time of silent prayer for a half hour before the service (this was a need that was discussed by the prayer ministry team).
- A prelude will begin at 5 to the hour.
- Call to worship of is said from the Chapel doors.
- A small procession of acolyte, celebrant and LEM (Lay Eucharist Minister) will process during an opening hymn.
- We will follow the orders of worship found in the UMH, Word and Table: Service I, II, III, or IV. A 10-minute homily will be prepared from the RCL readings for the week. We will take an offering. There will be one piece of special music during the serving of the elements. Renewed worship at the service of the table is breaking away from the funeral dirge approach of music and thus is recovering the fullness of the cycle found in early church worship – i.e. an emphasis of dying and being raised to newness of life. We will be stressing that this is a time for thanks, a time for healing and time for intimate relationship with God. Hopefully, the music and be both uplifting and traditional at the same time. As we settle down into this service and it develops on its own, we can perhaps be more experimental in our approaches and try different sung liturgies from other traditions, as well as some Taize music. However, in the beginning we should stay within the rubric set forth by our Hymnal.
- This new service will be an ideal time to educate our people about communion. One thought I have had is to not just preach on the RCL for the week, but to examine each of the sections of the service and discuss it either formally or informally so that we can better understand the tradition behind communion and the symbols that are used in the service. However, in the beginning, we are going to keep it simple. This can be done during the service or as a special class after the service.
- At the end of the service, depending on the use of the space at 9:45 (we may use the space for Sunday school or special lectures) we can sing a hymn and either encourage the participants to stay in prayer for a while or leave and attend Sunday School.
- The first communion service will probably be after the Advent season. The building is nearing completion, but we are uncertain when we will actually be in the building. However, many of the logistics can be worked out beforehand.

o One concern has been echoed a few times -- Will the service become “matter of fact” or “routine”? This is a question that I believe can be addressed by using all 4 of the services in the UMC hymnal, as well as the sung liturgies in “The Faith We Sing.” Another thought is to select music that serves in place of the sursum Corda, the sanctus, the dominus vobiscum and the agnus Dei among others, to add variety. Rotation of the voices of the celebrant is another way to keep it fresh and meaningful, as well as reflecting the liturgical season. In fact, I do not believe this will be an issue at all for a creative celebrant.
o If we have great demand for communion between the 9:39 and 11:00 and after the 11:00, we could have a Lay Minister administer the elements. In that case, perhaps a sanctuary light could be use to indicate the presence of consecrated elements.

No comments: