Anglicans Online News Basics Worldwide Anglicanism Anglican Dioceses and Parishes
Noted Recently News Archives Start Here The Anglican Communion Africa Australia BIPS Canada
Search, Archives Official Publications Anglicans Believe... In Full Communion England Europe Hong Kong Ireland
Resource directory   The Prayer Book Not in the Communion Japan New Zealand Nigeria Scotland
    The Bible B South Africa USA Wales WorldB
This page last updated 20 January 2014  

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters. We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to Canadian orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from the week of 13 to 19 January 2014

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters express the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

There are often comments about our front-page letters on the Anglicans Online Facebook page. You might like to have a look.

Horizontal rule

Last week in our front-page letter, we wrote about the use of technology — particularly overhead projectors — in worship. And we considered the degree or participation and interactifity as well. All the letters we received were in reference to that.

I am a Quaker of Anglican origin and I read AO faithfully and with interest. I am intrigued by today's post about interactivity in different churches and it occurs to me that a Quaker meeting could be read as simultaneously a 1 and a 10 on your scale. On the one hand, nothing appears to happen: zero activity, zero interactivity. On the other hand, we are all, at our best (and admittedly we aren't always at our best ) entirely responsible for channelling the movement of the Spirit amongst us. Hmm. Just sayin'

Liza Trent Savory
Dover-Randolph Monthly Meeting, NYYM, Religious Society of Friends
Mount Tabor, New Jersey, USA
13 January 2014

I read your editorial with much interest and I share your view regarding digital screens. While they may very well add to participation in worship, they are somewhat of a distraction, especially when some Churches show photographs and other information during the services. In addition, depending on the architecture of the building, they certainly will not fit appropriately.

If you are even in this part of the world, I invite you to visit one of our 14 Churches on this Island (New Providence) and I am sure you will rate us very high on your list.

Idris Reid
St. Mary the Virgin, Nassau
13 January 2014

"We prefer a gilt rood screen to a beaded-glass Da-Lite screen and overhead arches to overhead projectors. And we love books and paper and the printed word."

I believe your approach will last a lot longer than the overhead projector and screen. That's SO 20th-century.

Right onward, one of you likes to say.

The Right Reverend Pierre Whalon
13 January 2014

Firstly, the average Episcopalian can't sing Episcopal hymns whether from the hymnal or a projector. As a result, most Episcopal hymns seem an opportunity for the organist (primarily) and choir (secondarily) to display their talents (and the congregation to suffer through). Give us, "Power in the blood" or "Victory in Jesus", songs we sang on Kairos weekends, and you will really hear some participation.

Secondly, and this of course has nothing to do with interactivity or projection screens, Rite I, with it's beautiful [and I think, meaningful] language, is no longer heard in our parish. Furthermore, Christ is no longer seen as the Son of God, but rather a good person, albeit a very good person. And masculinity, in our parish at least, is out; no more 'him' or 'his', e.g., 'It is right to give him thanks and praise' is now, "It is right to give our thanks and praise'. "Yes, I know the last point is officially approved.

Finally, I think the clergy look a little silly wearing colorful, flowing cassock-albs. Give me plain black any day.

Ray Hester
All Saints Episcopal
Mobile, Alabama, USA
13 January 2014

Dear Friends (for that is what I feel you are),

Despite my best efforts, I found myself being very annoyed indeed when I read this week's post (12 January 2014) where choral mattins at York Minister was described as virtually non-participatory. I was disappointed to see trotted out the old shibboleth that if one isn't being vocal one isn't truly actively participating, and that the experience is therefore passive. And that old "concert performance" reference- Really? I can imagine the uncomprehending stares of Italians to people who attend a fine performance of, say, Madama Butterfly, and then say that they were disappointed that it was so non-participatory, so non-interactive, that they didn't really feel involved.

Anyone who is a regular concert or theatre-goer can tell the difference between active and passive listening. To actively listen IS to participate- to actively engage profoundly what is seen and heard in ways every bit as gripping and participatory as your Primitive Baptist experience. People who understand this also know just how interactive this participation is. I remember leaving the first screening of 'Schindler's List' utterly drained, exhausted, and unable to speak for half an hour. I have also experienced Good Friday services which have left me in the same state. I participated- and interacted -in these events in a most active way, I can assure you, and I never uttered a word or even sang a song.

I am a meretricious musician who loves to sing, especially hymns, but I love choral evensong and that now very rare treat, choral mattins. I want you to know that people DO *actively participate* in services like these, and while they might bear more than a superficial resemblance to a concert performance, they quite truly are interactive congregational worship of a most intimate kind. I hope that if you get back to York, or the Abbey, or any one of the few remaining places in either the UK or the USA that offer a proper choral service these days, that you will attend and, this time, be able to actively participate in and interact with what is being offered.

There; rant concluded. Yes, yes, yes, I know you said it is all valid. Forgive my defensiveness, but posts like this contribute to the demise of choral programs everywhere.

I now return to my normal love of all things Anglicans Online.

Anthony Parker
Church of Saint John's in the Village
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
13 January 2014

I have found that OH projectors can be difficult to read unless the lighting is bright, and the fonts used on the projection are clear and well-sized. That happens a bit less than half the time.

For many, it will not be important that there are churches where they do not work visually in the context of the architecture — it helps if they can be folded away or rolled up between services.

Still, I would prefer the cathedral matins. As someone without the ability to carry a tune, I don't have to sing to participate.

Austin Cooke
Anglican Church of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
14 January 2014

Please — no screens in God's house. They have been unnecessary for 2000 years, so why now?

I happen to love the institution of Morning Prayer and take great solace from the beautiful words and prayers. Why must we have a few folks that wish to destroy that which has meant so much to so many?

A traditionalist,

Clinton Burchfield
St Paul's Church
Lakewood, Colorado, USA
14 January 2014

In the Presbyterian Church where I used to worship, the worship songs and hymns that were displayed on the screen only encouraged people to sing the melody of the tune. There was no way to allow people to sing the parts. The main argument for using the overhead projectors was for people to sing upward to God rather than down at their feet.

At least for me, I miss the beauty and joy of the music when I can't sing my part (bass). So I would rather use the hymn book to sing rather than looking up at a screen. The overheads are nice when the scripture is displayed while the sermon is being preached, but I can do that by opening the Bible.

Dean Pappas
Church of the Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, USA
17 January 2014

I have some concern about the increasing use of the OH projector for worship in some of our Churches here. It may be useful at funeral services. The majority of our churches have enough books for visitors anyway.

Some of our Gothic, structures do not accommodate the screen so one may have to strain one's neck to the right or left of above the rood screen in order to follow the service. Not just the hymns, but the entire service may be on screen.

I find it distracting of worship as I am unable follow what is happening at the altar. I hope that it is not an easy way out for ministers who do not educate the congregations about our rituals, so that we look elsewhere!

In his book, 'The Liturgy as a Spiritual Experience', Thomas Keating says "the Liturgy does not offer us a mere seat in the bleachers, or even a ring side seat. We are invited to participate in the event itself to absorb its meaning with all our manifestations of the here and now".

As a retired Public Health Nurse, I may give a short talk to the congregation on topical issues and may do a Powerpoint presentation, so I am not totally against the technology.

Finally my church was dedicated 160 years ago this year. The original building was destroyed by fire in the 1980's so we do have a modern structure that is more amenable to the technology. I hope we will not totally abandon the Book of Common Prayer and our new Hymnal for the Province of the West Indies in preference for technology.

Patricia Harte
St Leonard's Anglican Church, Bridgetown, Barbados
Bridgetown Barbados, WEST INDIES
19 January 2014

I wonder about the attraction of east-facing altars with Anglo-Catholics. I definitely consider my self an Anglo-Catholic, both liturgically and sacramentally. I much prefer having the celebrant facing the congregation. I also have a strong preference for participatory worship, but draw the line with words projected on a screen.

I am not anti-technology and have seen worship with use of projected images, just no following the bouncing ball for me.

Judy Fleener
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Muskegon, Michigan, USA
19 January 2014


Horizontal rule
Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.


This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact <a href=""></a> about information on this page. ©2000 Society of Archbishop Justus