After consulting with my staff, board and Pastor’s Council, and receiving enthusiastic support for trying this new initiative (a one-year experiment), I am excited to offer the Bryn Athyn Church community a new worship service beginning in September. This will be advertised as the “Community Worship” service, which will be held once a month from September through June in our beautiful Cathedral at 10:00 am. It will be the only Cathedral worship service offered for that day.
Who is invited?
Everyone, children, teens, adults, seniors, newcomers.
What is the format?
This worship service will follow a similar format to the services offered by many General Church congregations around the world -- starting with a children’s talk (children are invited to sit closer to the chancel), then an interlude at which time children go to organized activities in different rooms, and teens, parents and grandparents stay for the adult talk. After the service, the congregation is invited to visit with others and enjoy refreshments.
What is the rationale?
One of the long-standing traditions (and strengths) of the Bryn Athyn Church congregation is the variety of worship offerings on any given Sunday -- Informal Service at 9:20 am; Young Children’s Church at 10:00 am; Family Service at 9:30 am; and Adult Service at 11:00 am. This new, once-a-month Community Worship is not intended to replace these services but is instead, designed to add a new dimension by gathering the congregation together more frequently than Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and New Church Day. Back in the day, our worship offerings served large numbers of people. Today we average 75 or below for each service. This Community Worship service will be an attempt to gain back a sense of belonging, a sense of identity, a sense of community for you, the Bryn Athyn congregation. We live in a fractured, siloed society, breaking off into small groups, doing our own thing, not tending to mix with each other. This new offering is a small, humble attempt to reverse that trend a little.
What is my hope?
I hope these Community Worship services generate a similar feel to our festival services where the singing is just that much stronger, the mood is just that much happier because, despite our differences, we have come together as one to worship and give thanks to the Lord. There is strength in numbers, a beautiful reminder that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.
How can I help?
Please tell your friends and family members about this new offering. If you or they are skeptical, give it a try anyway. I will be reaching out to families with young children to see how we can best serve them as this will be the hardest part of the service to get right.
If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions or would like to get involved in the planning, feel free to send me an email email@example.com. There are still a number of logistical details to be worked out and we will make improvements and adjustments throughout the year based on feedback we receive. This is an experiment, which means it might not work but we won’t know unless we try, so please consider supporting this new initiative. Your presence will make a difference.