Minister’s Musings Among the Mountains Week of 9/3

“So, what’s up with Worship Council?”

Several Westsiders have asked me that question in recent days.

I had mentioned some changes in my August 19th sermon called “Living in a Liminal Season.” I talked about being in a time of radical and unpredictable change which we all are now. This is what I said in that sermon (paraphrased):

Here’s one example. The Worship Council has had a long history of providing professional and wide-ranging Sunday services here. I mentioned that Chaplain Mark led the group for a decade. Last year Lisa Reitzes facilitated Worship Council during a time of profound change. We should all be grateful for Lisa’s leadership and dedication during that year, along with service leaders Jill Fleming, Sandra Niman, Shelby Greiner, Michael Matz, and our most excellent Margo Rinehart. Sandra has now moved away, and Jill is taking a time out; Lisa and Shelby will be doing services from time to time, including one on September 9th.

I decided this spring to do a reset on what Worship Council  is, so we can explore more options for Sunday and alternative services. Several newer church members have stepped up to be associate service leaders this year. I don’t want to mention names yet until we have formed the new Worship Team.

We’ll also begin an experiment this year with Second Sunday Special Services. Four praise services from the Southern US Protestant traditions will continue; Shelby and others will lead several Taize services like the one she led last spring. Other services on second Sundays will be planned with contemplative, energetic, heart-felt themes. Most of the other Sunday services will be traditional but with touches of creative input.”


It’s now about 3 weeks later. I am calling the group “Worship Team” for now. My plan is that the team will meet regularly each month to work on schedules, themes, and how various models of traditional and contemporary worship can be modeled without too much change. The core staff – Cynthia, Bert, Shannon, and I – will be planning Sunday services as has been the norm. The remaining veteran service leaders will do the non-Alex Sundays with guest speakers, and Second Sunday Special Services. The group of new associate service leaders will be trained working with me and others. They will also do parts of each service on my Sundays.

My experience with larger mid-size congregations is that the staff and minister(s) do most of the planning for Sundays. There are service participants, but their roles are more tightly focused than they have been here. I will have much more of a role as service leader like last Sunday when I did the entire service.

My plan is to have Sunday (and any alternative worship models at different times and days) services express a variety of ways worship can happen in a religiously liberal congregation. The praise services are such an example. They did create controversary last year, and many people enjoyed the services. I decided it made sense to expand them into still other creative, energetic, and contemplative types of services on Second Sundays. The Worship Team and staff will work together in creative approaches to worship while keeping the core pillars of worship (joys and sorrows, chalice lighting, affirmation, etc.) steady and firm.

The names and faces of service leaders will change. The forms of Sunday services won’t change too radically other than Second Sundays. When you and your new minister are together a year from now you’ll have the chance to decide on future worship directions together based less on theory and more on what you and they decide is evocative, exciting, and lifts both the heart and mind.

A couple of folks have asked me about becoming future service leaders. If you’re interested in being involved on Worship Team this year and being up front to help lead a service, please check in with me so we can sit down and chat.

I hope by the end of September to introduce you to the group who will work together this year on Sunday and alternative service planning. Who knows – you might be one of them this year or sometime in the future.



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