Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials • ChurchLeaders.com

 

In the past we’ve touched on the delicate balance that churches must maintain while appealing to millennials without pandering or changing theology. But what if we’re focusing our efforts in the wrong places?

What if the loud music and fog machines are actually clouding the Holy Spirit and preventing people from connecting with God? What if, instead of adapting to a modernized culture with our church services, we kicked it old school?

Source: Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials • ChurchLeaders.com

“Well, that’s exactly what the Church of England is doing. Despite growing secularism in the country, the church has seen attendance grow over the past several years with the help of a centuries-old liturgical tradition: Evensong. Choral Evensong is an evening prayer service that is delivered mostly through song, offering a restful, reflective time to worship God and pause from the busy-ness of life. The choir performs live and is often highly skilled and well-trained…

“Neil McCleery, assistant chaplain at one of Oxford’s oldest chapels, recently said it is rare to see attendance below 150 at a weekend evensong, contradicting the idea that church is facing inevitable decline. Many clergy like McCleery see this as an opportunity to draw more people into a relationship with the church.

“‘We get a lot of people who perhaps come to faith or return to faith by being drawn into that worship experience,’ he said. ‘I do wonder if it might be related to the trend for mindfulness in this era where we are constantly bombarded from the Internet, from media, from mobile, which are hard to get away from.

“The varied musical forms and passages of spoken liturgy mixed with moments of contemplative silence lends balance and completeness to the form of the service, according to ChoralEvensong.org. The high percentage of music is what distinguishes it from other church services for most people and appeals to locals and tourists alike.”

Well, who’d-a thunk it…?

“So what can we learn from this unforeseen surge in attendance in the otherwise post-Christian culture of the U.K.? With millennials leaving the church and a severe decline in denominational membership in America, perhaps returning to a disciplined, reverent worship service would have newcomers lining up to get inside the doors of our churches rather than exiting through them en masse.”

I have said on a number of occasions and in a number of ways – both on and off this forum – that a culture, or a Church, is like a tree: separated from its roots, it is more likely to wither than to experience life and growth. Restoring that connection – grafting it back onto the living “stump” with its extensive root system – may well restore that life and growth.

And while our goal, as Christians, should always be to worship God, first and foremost, and then seek to edify the faithful – not necessarily to “attract” any particular demographic group – I am living proof that faithfully-rendered Anglican liturgy can be a powerful tool of evangelism, including and perhaps even especially to young people seeking a firm place to stand.

I myself can trace my entry into the Anglican tradition (from Methodism, which granted is not so far afield as some) to the experience of the liturgy – in my case, the Daily Office of Morning Prayer – back in 1989, at the age of 24.

So I do not find this the least bit surprising!

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Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite

Continuing my sequence from Sounding the Seasons, the collection of my sonnets for the church year, published by Canterbury Press, the 29th September brings us the feast of St. Michael and All Angels which is known as Michaelmas in England, and this first autumn term in many schools and universities is still called the Michaelmas term.

Source: Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite

Today, September 29th, being Michaelmas – the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels – in the Western Christian calendar, here is a Michaelmas sonnet by the inestimable Malcolm Guite. Includes both the written sonnet, and a recitation of it by Malcolm, a priest in the Church of England, and a gifted poet. With commentary, including this excellent short sketch of Michael (whose name means “Who is like God?”) himself:

“The Archangel Michael is traditionally thought of as the Captain of the Heavenly Host, and, following an image from the book of Revelation, is often shown standing on a dragon, an image of Satan subdued and bound by the strength of Heaven. He is also shown with a drawn sword, or a spear and a pair of scales or balances, for he represents, truth, discernment, the light and energy of intellect, to cut through tangles and confusion, to set us free to discern and choose.”

John Mason Neale, Presbyter and Hymnodist, 1866 | For All the Saints

Neale was both a scholar and a creative poet whose skills in composing original verse and in translating Latin and Greek hymns into fluid and effective English verse were devoted to the Church. Composer of many original hymns and translations, he greatly enriched English hymnody.

Source: John Mason Neale, Presbyter and Hymnodist, 1866 | For All the Saints

“His Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862) included a number of Easter hymns, and their inclusion in a number of English hymnals introduced an important Eastern emphasis on the Resurrection into Anglican worship. Despite his poor health he was a prolific writer and compiler as well, and his output included such works on hymnody as Medieval Hymns and Sequences and [the aforementioned] Hymns of the Eastern Church as well as Liturgiology and Church History and a four volume commentary on the Psalms.

“He also founded, with longtime Cambridge friend and colleague Benjamin Webb, the Cambridge-Camden Society, later known as the Ecclesiological Society, the arm of the Oxford Movement devoted to recovering (sometimes going behind historic precedent) Catholic practice in Anglican church architecture, vestments, and liturgical acts.

“Gentleness combined with firmness, good humor, modesty, patience, devotion, and ‘an unbounded charity’ describe Neale’s character. Though he never received preferment in England, his contributions were recognized in the wide inclusion of his hymns in Anglican and other hymnals and in such actions as the presentation to him by the Metropolitan of Moscow of a rare copy of the Old Believers’ liturgy. He died on the Feast of the Transfiguration in 1866, having left a lasting mark on worship in the English-speaking world.

“Most hymnals since the late nineteenth century have included many of Neale’s compositions and translations. ‘Come, ye faithful, raise the strain,’ ‘Creator of the stars of night,’ ‘All glory, laud, and honor,’ ‘Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,’ ‘Jerusalem the golden,’ and ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ are just a few of the hymns that will long remain in the corpus of English hymnody.”

Embattled British Anglicans appeal for support | Anglican Ink 2017 ©

British Anglicans have asked Christians around the world to endorse the movement for renewed orthodox Anglicanism, asking supporters to add their names to the letter published in the Daily Telegraph this week calling for the reform and renewal of the Church of England, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church.

Source: Embattled British Anglicans appeal for support | Anglican Ink 2017 ©

I signed.

I don’t have a great deal of hope that this will meet with success, but when the effort is all that there is, it must needs be enough.

“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.”

— Robert E. Lee

‘The Church of England is dying’, warns former Queen’s Chaplain

“I’m not sure I see much point in a church that just wants to be accepted as a sort of not too irritating chaplain to a secular and hedonistic culture.”

Source: ‘The Church of England is dying’, warns former Queen’s Chaplain – The Conservative Woman

“The monarchy faces difficulties as it prepares for the coronation of Prince Charles at the sad moment when our present Queen dies. Secularism will try to rubbish the highly potent Christian content of the coronation; and Islam is likely to claim that it wants to be recognised within it in some way… So we face a struggle for the integrity of Christianity provoked by the issues that a Christian coronation ceremony brings up in a so-called multicultural Britain. I can see why the monarchy’s advisers are anxious about how to play the future. In my view you gain nothing by watering down Christianity. It’s wrong in principle and foolish in practice. It’s like paying Danegeld—and look what that achieved.”

O, how the mighty have fallen! He is right, of course. I can think of a whole list of Kings and Archbishops of Canterbury who must be looking down from heaven with dismay, by this time…

Still, God is in charge of history, and his time is not our time – “My ways are not your ways, nor your thoughts, my thoughts, saith the Lord.” The Iberian Peninsula was a Muslim caliphate for 700 years before the final success of the Reconquista. I may not live to see Britain and Europe restored, if they fall the rest of the way down the slope they’re sliding down currently, but I can hope and pray that it will happen, someday!

William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645 | For All the Saints

Elevated to the see of Canterbury in 1633, William Laud had already been King Charles’ principal ecclesiastical adviser for several years…

Source: William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645 | For All the Saints

“Laud’s reputation remains controversial to this day. Honored as a martyr and condemned as an intolerant bigot, he was compassionate in his defense of the rights of the common people against the landowners. He was honest, devout, loyal to the king and to the rights and privileges of the Church of England. He tried to reform and protect the Church in accordance with his convictions – though these attempts at reform were marred by his treatment of those who strenuously disagreed with him theologically and liturgically. In many ways he was out of step with the views of the majority of his countrymen, especially in his espousal of royal Stuart views of the ‘Divine Rights of Kings.’ The historian Nicholas Tyacke rates Laud as one of the greatest of the Archbishops of Canterbury, not giving him complete approval, but recognizing that his contribution to the future of the English Church was of major importance.”

O Holy Night : Kings College, Cambridge

While all things were in quiet silence, and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from Heaven, out of thy royal throne. Alleluia! (traditional Christmas antiphon)

O God, who hast caused this holy night to shine with the illumination of the true Light: Grant us, we beseech thee, that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth, so may we also perfectly enjoy him in heaven; where with thee and the Holy Spirit he liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ, our Saviour, is born! Alleluia!

Wishing all my readers a merry, holy, and blessed Christmas.