Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

One Bread, One Body: Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

One Bread, One Body: Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship

Article excerpt

One Bread, One Body: Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship. By C. Michael Hawn. Bethesda, Md.: Alban Institute, 2003. xxx + 224pp. $16.00 (paper).

In his foreword to this volume, Justo L. Gonzalez points out that most congregations think they are welcoming, that they really do want different people in their midst-but in fact they only want them if the others are willing to become like them, to adapt to their culture and traditions, their ways of being church, their forms of worship.

To combat this unfortunate tendency, Hawn offers this practical guide. Basing his argument in the 1996 Nairobi worship statement of the Lutheran World Federation, he offers four models on a scale of worship inclusiveness: culturally uniform worship, worship through cultural assimilation, culturally open worship, and worship in cultural partnership.

Many, if not most, Episcopal churches fall into the second category, expecting newcomers to learn our ways and assimilate themselves into our tradition. Hawn questions whether this is the best or only model, calling for a deeper conversation about those few theological assertions that truly must be present in Christian worship, regardless of cultural context.

Hawn writes, "Faulty concepts of excellence in ministry ironically build upon faulty assumptions of the nature of the gospel and of Christian ministry. Missing is an understanding that the countercultural call of the gospel often means following a path that does not follow the conventional wisdom or the most popular trends" (p. …

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