I've just finished two days as part of the Uniting Church's national Working Group on Worship which meets three times a year in my home town Brisbane. I joined a year ago. As well as being something that I feel called to participate in, I get to see my family more often, which has been and continues to be important through some very difficult times.
There are some wonderful people on this group and a great deal of breadth and depth of experience in worship. I was a member of its predecessor, the Commission on Liturgy, for a time in the early 1980s. Things have changed a lot in the church and society, yet in some ways I feel that I am in the same place, seeking to be a more progressive voice in terms of approach, language, music, context, creativity, and engaging with the church. And the rest of the group knew that from day one, if they hadnt guessed already!
so what did we talk about for 2 days?
- promoting the new affirmation of faith relating the the new UCA Preamble to our Constitution along with a set of images that people can use
- an online 'calendar of saints', including Australians, a work in progress that is close to going 'live'
- a project to write and promote new Australian music for worship
- how to recognise/commission lay presiders of sacraments
- an issue relating to 'dedication' of children in worship that are not simply thanksgiving for the birth of a child but are pretty much baptism without any water
- filming a training DVD designed to teach people about Holy Communion
- liturgical resources in languages other than English
- issues around training ordained and lay leaders in worship leading
- and a bunch of other things.
We also spent an afternoon meeting with the Synods' Mission & Evangelism Network exploring issues of common interest - Christian Initiation, Missional Preaching, Response in worship, Worship in new faith communities, and other stuff. We didn't come out with any actions but it was a useful first interaction. There were certainly some differences of perspective across the two groups.
Now that we have most of the print resources that our church needs, there's a fresh opportunity to ask how to stimulate, encourage, network, learn and create in other ways that are life-giving for congregations.