From the Rector – Column 3

September 19, 2019

What a wonderful forum we had on Sunday! It was inspiring to hear people’s personal stories about worship experiences that touched their lives. We heard stories about childhood experiences, turning points in our lives, and special times here at Redeemer. We used those stories as a jumping-off point to identify our shared values about worship. 

The result of our shared values discussion probably has no surprises. When taken individually, music had the most votes as being a crucial element of worship that enhances our spiritual experience and emotionally connects us. “Serenity, silence, calm, peace help us feel closer to God” was the second most popular, and welcome/inclusion and incorporating children and youth were not far behind as important shared values. 

When similar values were grouped together, values around welcome such as including everyone, ease of participation, and being invitational were the most important. Values around community such as creating a sense of intimacy and togetherness were the second most popular grouping. 

The worship committee and vestry will keep sifting through these shared values in the coming weeks. However, this week they really help to give us a framework for evaluating our first Worship Space Experiment coming up this Sunday, September 22 (which will be repeated on September 29). 

As I shared previously, there will be two elements to this first experiment at the 9:30 AM service:

  • The first is that the choir and music will be in the balcony, so we can hear and experience what it’s like for music to come from that area.
  • Second, we will visually block off the chancel area (with some portable wooden screens) and move the altar furnishings to the bottom of the chancel steps to get a feel for what it would be like if we made two separate worship spaces, as many have suggested.

At the 8:00 AM service, we will place chairs facing the altar (instead of our usual sideways-to-the-altar arrangement) so we can experience what it would be like if we created a “chapel” space in the chancel.  

What do you notice?

Your feedback is the most crucial part of evaluating this experiment.
So, we will have index cards and pencils in the pews so you can write notes to share with the Worship Space Discussion Team and the vestry. In addition, we’ll spend a few minutes at the beginning of the adult forum to get your verbal first impressions as well. 

As we’ve been discussing, personal taste is not the most helpful kind of feedback.
We all have different tastes in music, colors, décor, and so many other things. (My husband and I could argue all day about what songs to play on the car radio – and that’s before even asking the kids!) Instead, the most influential feedback will evaluate how well the experiment helps us live into our shared values.

  • Does it enhance or detract from our sense of community and intimacy?
  • Is it welcoming and inclusive, or a barrier to newcomers?
  • Does it bring more or less serenity and peace?
  • Does it help our music to emotionally connect us better?
  • Does it make it easier or harder to participate and be included?

This is the kind of feedback that will help us create the best possible kind of worship space for our community. 

This is a lot to remember, so one thing to keep in mind is, what do you notice?
This experiment is particularly about sound (how we experience the choir and musical accompaniment), so pay attention to what you hear. As the altar is moved forward and the worship space is a bit smaller, also pay attention to what you see. How does what you see and hear change your worship experience? What differences do you notice? 

I look forward to getting your feedback and ideas!