Grace and peace to you from God who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead. Amen.
Franciscans I look forward to seeing you all this weekend as we celebrate the most well-known and least imitated Saint-Francis of Assisi.
Service Time Change and Christian Formation Time Change
Your vestry and I, in consensus, have moved toward new service times for marking our formal worship times together on Sundays to begin in January of 2020. This subject of service time changes was brought forward by me to the vestry. I am now the lone priest at St. Francis with no assistant appearing on the horizon for the foreseeable future (which is very limited by human thought and imagination in my case at least). Four services are just a little more than one can do on a Sunday and give God proper adoration at each service. Plus, frequently our early and late Sunday services are not well attended.
The joint decision was made to combine the 7:45 am service and the 8:30 am service into one service at 8 am. This 8 am service will not have a choir or have organ music (we may chant some though). It should routinely be about 45 minutes long but I will endeavor not to exceed the 9 am hour.
Following the 8 am service we will have our first Adult Christian Formation Class at 9:15 am which will end at 10 am.
Following the first Adult Christian Formation Class a second class along with Children’s Christian Formation Class will begin at 10 am and end at 10:45 am.
This time may also encompass a Choir warm-up or rehearsal for the 11 am service. To have two Christian formation times, or have the ability to do something different if desired during that time on Sunday, I think could be a great thing involving Christian study and fellowship. Two opportunities of Christian formation will also allow an increase in the variety of subject matter and will allow some the opportunity to actually attend and/or teach a class.
The last morning service will begin at 11 am and should not routinely extend beyond 12:15 am. We will have music. Again my endeavor will be to keep the service time within those limits. But I ask you to endeavor to be to class on time so that they can start on time.
The 6 pm Sunday Celtic Contemplative Holy Eucharist service will still be just that except on those days that the vestry meets, generally once per month. On that day, the Sunday evening service will be evening prayer and led by either clergy or lay folk. It is also a possible service for those traveling over the weekend and would still like to have an opportunity to worship provided they return to town by 6 pm.
I want to specifically mention the choir disruption that will occur because of these time changes. The current choir members will have their schedules affected with these new service times. I would love to believe that all the choir members would be able to move to the 11 am service but that is just not possible. Not singing at the early service for some of them will be a grieving process and the gift of voice that they have given us over the years will be a loss to them and to us. Please let them know your appreciation for that gift. Certain members of the choir have indicated that they may continue by singing at the 11 am service. Other non-choir members have indicated that they would consider joining the choir if it were at 11 am. Please consider it.
I am not taking these service time changes lightly. Currently we have four services with four distinct communities at each. When we get into the new building, my hope is that we will worship and adore God as one large community but in practical terms, I believe we will always have an early service and a late service by necessity.
And in practical terms we will also address having a midweek evening Eucharist. Some of you have expressed a desire for such with some sort of bible study. This service might also be one that our brothers and sisters who work in the service and hospitality industry could possibly attend. Because of their work schedule, Sunday is just another day. For those (quite a few actually) that work multiple jobs their Sunday is the only time available to them to sleep in. I understand that.
Times have changed. Christianity is changing and this generation is seeing it change quite rapidly with an emphasis on less dogma and more service. An increase in desire for ritual and depth and a casting way of the superficial entertainment of shallow worship. It appears that we may be turning toward seeking to adore God and not just get a moment of thrill by the balloons and colored mist dropping on the band during a worship service.
Peace to you all. Ben+