from 26 July to 1 August 2004
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sound systems do not make good readers
LETTER THIS PAST WEEK (July
to mind an issue that seldom is mentioned in most churches: sound
reinforcement, a.k.a., microphone dependence.
church I was one of the key people who was called upon to survey
our needs. I have some experience in running both front-of-house
and monitor systems for national acts and know the equipment needed
to do the job. I've had good teachers in this and in something
else I offer the church (in addition to my musical talents), which
is lay reading. All the fine equipment in the world won't make
up for marginal reading skills.
no formal training in reading, mind you, but some good critiquing
by peers and a bit of coaching by a retired acting teacher. I cannot
emphasize enough the benefit of good preparation by reading and
rereading aloud, especially when one is called upon to read one
of the Pauline epistles. Pacing and phrasing are so important here.
With Paul, you'd BETTER practice your reading! Though I am a layperson,
I believe that part of my trust as a reader is to help make the
scripture come alive, show its key point. One can only do well
at that through a thorough reading and rereading, some thought,
and time in prayer.
other side of that coin is making one's self heard. Yes, we have
top-drawer sound reinforcement gear. But that's still no excuse
for poor reading habits. Regardless of whether the mic is stuck
in my face or not, I try to speak to the back row of pews when
I read. I learned to read in a church that didn't have sound gear
and one's voice had to carry by itself. I suppose being a good singer
helps with projection, and good diction is part of good singing.
No, I'm not perfect at it, but more often than not I do receive
compliments on my reading. There's not a whole lot to it, really.
I just do my homework, and speak as if there is no microphone.
St. Andrew's Episcopal
Panama City, FL USA
26 July 2004
Find a lay preacher in your congregation
BATCH OF LETTERS (July
25) about preaching and preachers was most interesting, and I agree
that seminaries should put greater emphasis on teaching the mechanics
of public speaking - breath control, projection, emphasis, and
so on. I applaud those seminaries that have the wit and wisdom
to employ acting teachers to do just that.
there is another solution, especially for parishes that have Rectors
who did not receive proper voice training; there is someone in
each congregation who can preach as well as, if not better, than
a theory that each congregation is a complete body of Christ, so
all the gifts are present. Each congregation has teachers, preachers,
healers, administrators, and so on. Unfortunately, we also have
a tendency to expect our incumbents to fill all those roles, and
that's unfair. No one person has all the gifts, so why not check
around and do a gift inventory? Where is it written that one has
to be ordained in order to preach? With more and more lay people
getting involved in the liturgy, this is a logical step.
in many parishes, the problem could be getting the incumbent to
The Cathedral Parish of St. John
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
26 July 2004
What I want from a sermon
A PEW SITTER and not a preacher, I would like to comment on what I want from
you have to be able to hear and understand the sermon. One church
I was in had wonderful accustics -- for music. Any spoken sentence
that wasn't paused regularly got blurred by the resonance. Even
good speakers got caught on that. But few guest preachers would
ask about the acoustics in advance. All too often I would get to
the end of the sermon and think, 'I think he made some good points.
I wish I had been able to understand them.'
it's got to be designed for HEARING. I've also heard sermons that
would have been great to read. But they were so dense that I got
lost early on. Or half way through a story I would realize that
without a detail I had missed at the beginning, this wasn't going
to make sense, and the detail was never repeated.
it does have to have good content. The first time I took my then
15-year-old to Christ Church, Canon Jeremy Peake preached a very
long, involved sermon. I worried about what my son would think.
Afterwards, asked if the sermon had been to long, he replied, 'It
wasn't long. It was interesting!' Soon he was coming to Christ
Church with me. The 14-year-old still went to the Methodist church
with his father. The two teenagers regularly argued about sermons
over Sunday dinner. What a compliment to both preachers!
28 July 2004
We launched our 'Letters to
AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our