Church Tour: Epsicopal 1, 2, 3

One thing we’ve learned is how extremely different local bodies of the same denomination can be. So far, we’ve been to three different Episcopal churches that display this point.

During Advent we visited One for a special service entitled “A Festival of Carols and Bells.” Growing up non-denominational, the only exposure I had to liturgical celebrations were the occasional Christmas Eve service with my grandparents at their Methodist church. It was a beautiful service, with a full choir, hand bells, and lots of carols. A child barely taller than the pulpit read an Old Testament passage, as part of the procession through the prophecies about Christ’s birth. This Sunday celebrated Mary, and the priest gave an intelligent yet accessible homily (short sermon) about her special purpose. She did give birth to the Messiah, after all.

We happened to attend mass at Two during their annual Jazz Festival, so the songs for the invocation, offertory, etc. were Dizzy Gillespie selections played by members of the church and some guests. All the responsive verses following readings held a jazzy beat. The pastor preached on how Gillespie’s life showed the inclusive power of God’s love. The service definitely had all the Episcopal trimmings, but it was fairly far removed.

For Ash Wednesday we visited Three, on the recommendation of a friend who described it as a “smells and bells” service. This was the most “high” or extremely traditional of the three. I admit I was a little lost on when to say what, but it was very beautiful, and I was glad for the Book of Common Prayer. Leaders (priests and lay) presented the Bible in a solemn ceremony, rang bells to signify the transubstantiation of the Bread and Wine, and chanted in melodic tones. I was surprised when the rector came into the audience to preach and connect with people. I assumed in such a formal setting the rector would be more uptight, but it was quite the opposite.

With all the turmoil in the Episcopal Church at large, I see God moving in local bodies in meaningful ways. Each of these congregations adhered to the liturgical readings that I find so wonderful, and invited all to partake in Christ. I also found the mysterious elements of Jesus to be appropriately accessible, which is hard to do.

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Mitzi and Jerry said...

I am enjoying reading about the different churches. We did a church tour with our college Sunday School class to expose them to different denominations, worship styles, uses of space, etc. and that's how we found Taft!

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