New Hampshire's Bishop Confirmed: Pride in my Church Reborn!

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 13 August 2003 0 Comments
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Do you have any suggestions for corporate, spoken prayers that reflect your understanding of God and the purpose of prayer?


I wish I did but I do not. There is, however, much work being done on this subject in the Christian world in experimental congregations. Little is done officially in the more liturgical churches where the liturgy is set and is generally rather dated. Those churches revise their liturgies periodically (my church did this last in 1979) but they generally run far behind the cultural changes they need to reflect. In the "free churches" where the liturgy is created weekly a as part of the worship preparation, there is an opportunity for much more creativity. Where the local ministers are liturgically sensitive and informed there can be exquisite moments of worship. Where they are not, worship descends to the pits!

In my travels, I participate in worship services and prayers that come in a variety of forms. Among the best that I recall occurred at the Unity Church of New York (Paul Tenaglia, pastor). In the United Church of Canada, one example would be The Knox United Church of Calgary (Lorraine Hartley, associate pastor). Others would be the Anglican Cathedral in Vancouver (Peter Eliot, dean), Asbury United Methodist Church in Phoenix (Jeff Proctor-Murphy, pastor), Redeemer Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey (Philip Wilson, rector) and St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Auckland, New Zealand (Ian Lawton, vicar). There are many others. I know churches in Berkeley, Ca., in Sacramento, in Omaha, in Aimes, Iowa, and in Birmingham, Alabama where I would be happy worshipping on a regular basis. You might contact one of these places. Liturgy and prayers need to be developed out of the indigenous life of a worshiping community. I do not think they can be composed in a vacuum and exported.

This is clearly something that must be worked on by more and more congregations. Perhaps your question will inspire this activity.

John Shelby Spong





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