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Hallo again to all.

It is becoming increasingly common to see news stories about congregations no longer able to worship in a church building. Sometimes it is temporary, and sometimes it is permanent. The Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reports on a squabble in the Diocese on the Niger in which 200 clergy and 5000 worshippers who were locked out of their church marched to a nearby school and held services there. The long-running sad story in Tasmania of church buildings, some of which were still in use, being sold to raise money for reparations*. Churches burn down, are seized by schismatic groups, damaged by earthquakes, have their component building materials stolen for resale by thieves, or were just abandoned because the dwindling supply of worshippers could no longer afford the upkeep.

Sometimes worship in temporary spaces is intentional. In temperate climates, the Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St Francis is frequently held outdoors. A parish we have visited in southern Europe welcomes reptiles to be blessed if its service is held outdoors, but doesn't want lizards or snakes in the nave†. We know a parish that celebrated the 50th anniversary of its consecration by worshipping in the warehouse-like space that had housed it before.

All of us at Anglicans Online enjoy 'high church' liturgy. Its various and beloved accoutrements don't work as well outdoors on grass or sand or concrete. Incense, candles, pipe organs, and hand-bell choirs seem lost or insignificant in a park. A procession doesn't have quite the majesty one looks for when those processing are worried they might trip on a root or a gopher hole and fall. The huge gilt rood screen whose presence enhances our worship is simply not portable, and carrying a banner with a picture of a carved golden rood screen borders on farce.

Our own parish has used an expertly-played saxophone as a surprisingly effective outdoor substitute for the organ, but it's hard to play the Widor toccata with sufficient bombast on a saxophone. Bagpipes are more effective outdoors than in, but it is hard to find a competent piper willing to play in a church service.

Sadly, it will become more common to hold worship services in improvised places. Will creative liturgists be able to come up with a customary for 'high mass held in an old warehouse' or 'Ash Wednesday held on a street corner'? It might be good to work on it before it gains urgency.

What are your thoughts about quality liturgy for places that are not church? It has become common to hold weddings on a beach. Would you have your child baptised on the beach? Do the rules need to be made looser or tighter? Write and tell us what you think.

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

7 October 2018

*We can't provide a link to this story because most Tasmanian news media have recently added pay-walls, and we won't ask you to subscribe to read one item.

†In this era of expressing great outrage at the habits and pastimes of others, we wonder whether some might object to blessing a snake in a church.

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