Our local ministerial association met recently to flesh out
the details of the annual community Thanksgiving service. The meeting is always
a riot, but it deals with some tense theological questions too.
Depending on how you count, there are five to ten churches
in our town of about 1,000 people. We had one more pastor-type attendee at this
year's meeting than last--a congregation has split off from the ELCA parish and
intends to join the new North American Lutheran Church (NALC). We welcomed the
new congregation with open arms at our meeting--what a great opportunity to
share in community ministry--but seeing this new congregation participate will
be very painful for some in the ELCA parish.
Questions of liturgy always come up--what to use, what not
to. If we use an affirmation of faith that's not creedal but taken straight
from scripture, can everyone speak it? The Catholic priest inquired about the
best way to lead a call to worship without a printed liturgy. I was surprised
to learn that not everyone assumed that the scripture readings read publically
would be the same passages from which I preached. (I drew the short straw this
Then there's the question of what to sing-praise songs or
hymns, with hymnals or projection. I won't get into how long it took us to choose
the date and time for the service.
I realize these issues are nothing compared to what others
might deal with elsewhere-all our participants are Christian, and our rural
community is closer to Christendom than post-Christian. So I thought we could
start a discussion on community Thanksgiving worship. How do you do it? What
are your challenges? Comment away; I'd be thankful.
Adam J. Copeland teaches faith and leadership at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He has served as pastor of a Presbyterian church and as mission developer of a Lutheran ministry. He blogs at A Wee Blether, part of the CCblogs network.