24 to 30 June 2013
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of the letters that came in last week were in response
to our front page essay of 23 June.
writing on the wall
visceral negative reactions to church services occur
on those rare occasions when I travel and
I end up visiting one of those churches that
puts the praise somgs on the wall with a projector.
The "music" is
awful! The writer of this article describes a church
very similar (except for the all-male altar party)
to the one where God found me while I was in deep
spiritual pain and crying out against him.
was confirmed in this church (St. Mark's,
Philadelphia), a "nose-bleed" high
parish that calls the liturgy "mass" and uses many
pounds of incense each year, where Benediction on
Sunday evenings features a beautiful monstrance, "Tantum
ergo" is sung in Latin, and the entire service of Compline
is chanted entirely in Latin in a church lighted only
by candles . . . And this is the context where
I find the deepest comfort and spirit of worship. I feel
repelled and nervous in churches where they project
cheap praise songs on the wall.
Now St Thomas'; for decades, St. Mark's Locust Street
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
24 June 2013
believe the article you wrote describing the service you
participated in tells more about you than the church
you were in. I have many times worshiped where the
whole altar party was female; should I have assumed
that there was a statement being made? Or would it
be better to assume that perhaps these were just
the folks assigned for the day. The comments sounded
a bit snarky to me.
that I am retired, at times I find myself wrestling
spiritually not to be judgmental when things are
done differently than I would have done. I am not
there to be some sort of liturgical Clive Barnes,
but to worship God and enjoy being his presence.
all of us, and I include myself here, need to lighten
up and just enjoy worshiping God with our brother
and sister Christians, no matter what their churchmanship.
All Saints Cathedral
Albany, New York, USA
24 June 2013
the media along the via
bad you didn't give the service a chance. I,
of course, have a church with "low southern leanings".
I grew up in a very "high" one. I have no problem
with women and children in our service, but I really
love getting to a "nose-bleed high" parish.
my own spiritual life I still use the Anglican Missal
and Father Field's Prayer Book. I am 82 and I can
enjoy what each has to offer. I feel closer to the holy
in the Mass, though.
Grace Calvary, Cartersville, Georgia
Blairsville. Georgia, USA
24 June 2013
I lived in Mexico, Guadalajara City in the 1980's
I was in the process of transitioning from RC to
Anglican, teaching in an Anglican Seminary there.
On a Sunday that I went to Mass at the beautiful "espiatorio" church
where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed every day
— a tradition in large cities — when
older and somewhat disagreable priest preached a
sermon, saying "unbaptized
children were children of the Devil". That was
enough: So long, see you later.
had a similar expericence in New York City at Guadalupe
Parish 14th Street while I was at General Theological
Seminary in December. The preaching
was so condemning of all of us present — including
the Mexicans — that I knew it was time to step out. I
recall something about "the Mexican girls come to
NYC and end up dressing and acting as prostitutes". .
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Van Nuys, California
Sherman Oaks, California, USA
24 June 2013
read last week’s cover story with some interest
and eventually with some dismay. I cannot criticize
what is in someone’s heart, but walking out
of divine service due to an unease (bordering on
panic?) because of an all male altar party? Retreating
to your hotel to read prayers alone rather than part
of a community of Christians? That truly seems to
me to be an act no better than that of a person who
would do the same because the altar party was all
female or had females in it. I don’t believe
that currently there is any regulation stating that
there must be both sexes participating in every service,
is there? Perhaps that could be the 40th Article?
belong to a catholic-minded urban parish in the midst
of a university city with a long history of the inclusion
of women both as priests, seminarians, and service at
the altar. We currently have a woman as a part-time assistant
and one as a priest associate, and will have a female
deacon again in the fall, the third in as many years.
We always try to schedule a mixed complement of servers,
but with three Masses on Sunday during the academic year,
transiency, and school/work schedules being what they
are, it’s not always possible to spread people
year in the fall, we actively recruit to add numbers
to our acolyte corps, however this year, few women
signed on. Thus the visible ratio of males and females
in the sanctuary could be tilted, with some Sundays
at our principle Mass all male, especially if our
assistant priest was unavailable. All through no
fault of the parish, but because no women stepped
up to volunteer.
wonder if you came to my parish, with its history
of “diversity and inclusion” on
one of those Sundays, would you also hit the door before
the party got to the altar?
Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut
Rocky Hill, Conneticut, USA
25 June 2013
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