Magazine article Anglican Journal

New Words for the Old Service: The Traditional Liturgy Gets a Reboot at St. Christopher's Church

Magazine article Anglican Journal

New Words for the Old Service: The Traditional Liturgy Gets a Reboot at St. Christopher's Church

Article excerpt

Across the Anglican Church of Canada, the Book of Alternative Services and the Book of Common Prayer are the liturgical foundation for Sunday morning services.

But at St. Christopher's Anglican Church in Burlington, Ont., the traditional liturgy is getting a reboot.

"For the last six years we've hosted a gathering, to which everyone is invited, in the spring, to ask questions about what's going on in people's lives, what do we think God is trying to do with us," says Archdeacon Steve Hopkins, rector at St. Christopher's. Out of these conversations, themes for worship and education are identified for the coming year, he says.

This day--"discernment day," as it is known in the parish--goes far beyond a simple planning session, though. Open to anyone who wants to attend, it is about creating new service texts that reflect the thoughts, feelings and concerns of the congregation.

While these services follow the traditional Anglican rhythm, their content changes based on the season and the theme. If the theme being explored in Advent, for example, is "letting go of busyness," the confession will be written to reflect that.

"It makes Sunday morning alive and magical and powerful," Jane Wyse, a member of St. Christopher's, says of her experience with discernment day. "It relates to our life and what we're going through, and it's not something that you say over and over again every Sunday; it changes up and it speaks to you more."

This is a feeling that other people relate to as well.

"The deepening and broadening of my own faith journey has been exponential in the six years that we've been doing this," says Canon Christyn Perkons, who, in addition to being a parishioner at St. Christopher's, serves as director of congregational support and development at the Niagara synod office. "I think the theology of so many of the things we deal with means so much more to me...I understand my own belief system around it in a way I didn't before."

For others, it is the ability to be honest about what they believe--or don't believe--that makes the experience regenerative.

'T feel very liberated," says Ted Taylor. "I feel that I am not being required to either mouth words that I have trouble believing or standing there silently while other people around me mouth them."

But the new approach to liturgy is not only about innovation; it is also about maintaining a connection to the traditions of Anglicanism, according to the Rev. Dan Cranley, pastoral associate at St. Christopher's.

"We're trying to honour two things: what's going on in the lives of the community, along with honouring the Anglican rhythm of worship," he says. …

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