Alternative liturgies are featured in this week's Saturday Collection, with one congregation doing a modern adaption of Evensong for Superbowl weekend, a PA parish doing a U2'charist to raise funds for the Sudan, and an Interfaith worship service in Rochester NY. There's an account of a particularly industrious way to raise money for a parish Food Bank and of a different twist to Youth ministry.
First off this week from Alabama:
The Super Bowl is Sunday evening, but members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Prattville hope that won't keep people from coming out to enjoy a special service filled with fun music in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
The service, held by the church on the first Sunday of each month, is called "Even song, With a Twist!" The service combines traditional liturgy with modern-day music and fea tures the band Epiphany, which is made up of parish members.
A year ago, the church held a special service called a U2charist -- a communion serv ice that replaces traditional hymns with the famed Irish rock band U2's most popular and spiritually moving songs. The U2charist service was open to the public, and proved to be very popular.
"A lot of those people were not Episcopalian, but they enjoyed what they heard and saw," said Paul Whatley, parish adminis trator.
The Evensong service will be similar to the U2charist. Not only is it a service that features modern music, but also it is open to everyone.
"Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale will offer[ed] this alternative worship experience on Sunday, January 30th at 6 p.m. in the Parish Hall.
Live music of the band U2, powerpoint presentation and the sharing of Christian lives around the world will focus attention on a message from the Southern Sudan. Charlie Barebo, the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem's liaison to her companion diocese, Kajo-Keji in the Southern Sudan, will be the guest speaker. 'With the recent referendum for independence in the Southern Sudan from the oppressive regime in the North, our prayers and support are crucial,' says the Rev'd Edward K. Erb, rector of Grace Church. 'It could not be a better time for us to share our mission to the world in this unique way.'
The UN's Millenial Development Goals seek to eradicate hunger, promote the welfare of women and children, and increase education in Third World Countries. Bono and the popular band U2 have over the years produced, performed and recorded many songs with Biblical references and messages to stir people to mission in transforming the world. 'The official, legal name of the Episcopal Church,' Fr. Erb explains, 'is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, which is a surprise to many - including Episcopalians!'"
From Rochester, New York comes an account of an Interfaith event that took place last weekend:
On Sunday, January 30, an extraordinary event will take place at two Rochester churches. As part of the traditional readings on a typical Sunday, a member of the Jewish faith will include a lesson from the Prophets and a member of the Muslim faith will include a lesson from the Qur¹an. And both will receive a lesson from the Gospels.
What's going on here? No Qur'an burnings, no vilifications of other beliefs. Afraid not. No inflammatory pictures or shouts; no TV cameras rolling to see who can get the most outrageous quote. All that¹s going on is a demonstration of what America is all about the ability of persons of all faiths and creeds to speak to God in a fashion that goes beyond mere tolerance. It will be a service that welcomes the ³other² not for the purpose of conversion, but for the purpose of sharing of learning from what another faith has to say and letting others take away the important lessons of your own faith.
We will be thus affirming the religious truth that what is helpful to us as Christians, as Jews, as Muslims, will also be found in the writings, practices, and beliefs of persons who do not share our specific faith. What we all share, though, is our belief that we worship the same God and that, indeed, others may have insights and wisdom about that God from which we can benefit.
The two churches, the Episcopal Church of the Ascension and the Lake Avenue Baptist Church, have stepped forward to participate in the Faith Shared project of the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. From this simple act, it is hoped that other opportunities for shared service and learning will emerge. The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester, the local affiliate of the national organization, and the Interfaith Forum, a major interfaith umbrella in the Rochester area, recruited the participating churches.
In San Francisco, parishioners at St. John's Episcopal Church are coming up with novel ways to raise money to support their Food Bank in a time of startling increases in demand:
The increasing number of hungry forced new ideas at the Julian Pantry. One, from Dietrich’s sister, was to produce and sell organic honey. She and a friend followed through, selling jars of honey they cultivate from their backyard beehives on Potrero Hill.
“Last Christmas we got a check for $3,500 for selling $10 bottles of honey,” Dietrich says. “That’s one-third of our annual budget.”
The rest comes from the San Francisco Food Bank. “This helped us keep up with the demand,” Dietrich says.
And finally, from Cleveland Ohio comes this story of very different sort of Youth Group overnight:
Temperatures plummeted to 11 degrees on Saturday night, but the frigid weather did not deter a group of youths who wanted to show solidarity with the homeless.
The students, members of the youth group at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lakewood, spent the night sleeping outside in the cold and snow. Their only shelter was cardboard boxes.
After a dinner of bread and soup, similar to what a homeless person might eat, the students got to work preparing their shelters. Once they set up outside, they asked passersby for money, which will be donated to the Lakeside Men’s Homeless Shelter, the largest shelter for men in Cleveland.
“I think it is a good cause, and it will show people what the homeless go through every day,” said Jack Miller, a youth group member.