This is the text of a letter that was given to the congregation at church services this morning. ...
Thank you to all who have offered their perspectives on the morning services at St Christopher’s, whether at the forum on 19th March, or in other ways. When we met as a PCC recently we considered the different views that have been expressed and explored how we might move forward.
We had a strong sense that the church wishes to return to a single worship time on a Sunday morning and that the splitting of the congregation and the small numbers at some services detracts from our worship and fellowship times. We felt that it is vital to honour the past as best we can, but also to make progress for the future; that therefore a more contemporary service is the best basis for a single worship time. We then discussed how the qualities of more traditional and reflective worship might be included in a new single Sunday morning gathering.
We agreed that the proposed new Sunday morning pattern will involve Holy Communion twice a month, with a morning celebration and all age worship on the other weeks. As currently, priority will be given to exploring God’s Word for us today. Music will be led by a variety of instruments each week, but using a mixture of hymns and songs, making the most of the old and the new, and reflecting the breadth of Christian experience and deeper theological truth. Some liturgy and times for reflection will be included (with seasonal elements where appropriate). We do want our services to be accessible, but also to have depth, and we want everyone to be able to flourish. We experienced all of this during our church weekend.
We also wish to explore possibilities of developing traditional styles of worship, either by building on our growing midweek worshipping community or making more of the Sunday evening service with traditional worship most weeks (featuring Holy Communion twice a month). The timing of this could be changed to suit those who come.
The PCC felt that this outline of a new format for a single worship time on Sunday might be helpful:
- Opening worship – upbeat hymns/songs, expressing truth about God.
- All-age friendly element at the beginning of services.
- Confession – more formal in Communion service, incorporated into prayers in other services
- “Fingerprints” – opportunity to share how God has been at work in our lives and how he might be speaking to us – during Celebration.
- Prayers / Bible reading / sermon – same each week.
- Creed (said before bible readings or sung as part of our corporate sung worship) in communion service.
- Songs/hymns of response - quiet and reflective.
- Communion – share the peace either before the act of communion or at end of the service. Seasonal Eucharistic prayers.
- Final song/hymn – upbeat/anthemic
With all this in mind, following the forum on 19th March and its meeting on 20th March, the PCC is mindful to move permanently to one morning service every week that will begin at 10am. We propose to begin this transition on 23rd July (when, in our existing Sunday worship pattern, we would move to a single 10am gathering each week throughout the summer).
We are aware that such a step involves compromise, whether you prefer traditional or contemporary worship, and realise that it will take time for us all to feel comfortable in new set of clothes. We believe that such a move is a step in the right direction towards our goal of creating something that fits as us as whole community and will serve us well for the future God has in store for us.
The PCC will make a final decision on this proposal on 22nd May. Please submit any concerns/comments you have to us, we’d love to hear them.
Yours in Christ, on behalf of the PCC
Andy, Irene and Pauline