A servant church in the heart of the city

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi

Possible Projects, Routines, and Questions

     Here are some examples simply to suggest a range of ways of thinking about how we might enhance the worshipers’ experience. We all have rituals we favor and maybe we observe hiccups in the flow of the service we would like to cure. Discussing these and learning what we and the rest of the congregation value will surely deepen our understanding, bring us ever more fully into the celebration of God’s grace, and be empowered by the worship experience to be of greater service to the world. 
     Some of these ideas have been forwarded by a number of people. Others come from only one person or another, and we do not know at this point how each idea might be embraced by the membership as a whole. Some items present more than one viewpoint, some only one.  Still, this is a way of understanding how we might move forward by listening to each other prayerfully. 

     (1) For the advance GHTC weekly E-news or Digital Bulletin, a brief note about why a hymn we will sing has special meaning, or a particular worship element appropriate to Sunday’s worship such as a window or banner or ritual element or instrument, or the meaning of worship itself.
    STATUS. The Committee's work, after 14 such offerings, was suspended by the clergy because of the pledge campaign and Advent and Christmas. As of 2018 May, no resumption has occurred and no invitation to resume this has been made to the knowledge of the 2017 worship committee lay chairman, and no explanation offered as to how these notes detracted from the worship experience or congregational life, or would have interfered with, rather than enhanced, Advent and Christmas, with their rich musical and liturgical character, or how the pledge campaign might have been frustrated, rather than promoted by the demonstration of the care with which we attend to our worship life.

     (2) For those who desire, developing a list of different devotional options as we approach the communion rail to help us prepare ourselves as we await the gifts of the Eucharistic elements. (For example, it was helpful to a new Episcopalian to be given the suggestion to focus on one of the six chancel windows or a figure in the reredos, to present oneself at the altar rail with flat hands to make an altar for receiving the sacrifice, or cupped hands as a sign of being empty and receptive to be newly filled with grace.)

     (3) Examining how the printed service bulletin might be more useful to our visitors as they follow the liturgy, both week-to-week and throughput the liturgical calendar, perhaps by conceiving it less as mere instructions and more as a work of art, balanced with considerations of expense, or using the Book of Common Prayer to emphasize our heritage and save printing costs.

     (4) Creating a policy on applause. On one hand, applause is a way of gratefully acknowledging those who contribute to our worship experience and to the life of the congregation. On the other, the entire congregation is performing for God -- the congregation is not the audience; God is, and applauding ourselves is unseemly.

     (5) (a) Studying whether a few rows of pews at the front of the nave might be removed to allow more space for special worship and other activities. (b) For services where relatively few people are anticipated, consider roping off back pews to enable a sense of closer community. Remember the advantage of pews for families with young children -- the pews help corral the young ones and also provide a desk-like surface for coloring or writing. (c) For services when few people are expected, arrange chairs in pairs facing each other in the central aisle of the nave, with the chairbacks against the pews, so that a monastic or Gothic Revival quire arrangement of seating is effected within the nave. For 5 pm Sunday Mass, since few attend and they are scattered throughout the nave for this service which has more chanting than the other services, this arrangement might become routine.

     (6) Study the possibility of incorporating occasional liturgical dance.

     (7) Considering whether visual projections other electronic enhancements for worship might ever be appropriate.

     (8) Finding money for purchasing vestments and other furnishings for standard liturgical year colors (for example, rose color vestments etc for Gaudete Sunday (Advent 3) and Laetare (Lent 4)).

     (9) Consider the meaning of the acolyte’s cross at the concluding 10:15 Sunday procession, and whether it could remain in a bracket affixed to a pew nearest the tower door until the congregation departs. 
     STATUS. On Sept 26 the Dean was sent a report that this item had the of consent from then-Head Acolyte Jeff Johnson, Former Junior Warden Dave Barker, Craftsman Extraordinaire Bud McDowell (who would do the work), and Junior Warden Terry Curan (involved because this is an effort to emphasize taking our faith from the worship experience into the world), and was ready for action. On Oct 18, clergy decided that this is best put on the table for consideration at a later time; no reasoning for postponement was offered, and no time set for future consideration was offered.

     (10) Encouraging more pauses for reflection during the Sunday services at key points in the liturgy, for example, after the Collect for the Day, after the lessons, after the sermon, after the Sanctus et Benedictus while folks who wish to kneel are taking their places, and generally to acknowledge we wait upon the Lord.

     (11) Study the advisability of creating a “contemporary” service — what would this be like?  — who would attend, and how would it honor our heritage? — when would it be scheduled?  —  how would this affect both membership and a sense a Cathedral community united in diversity? How can we retain, further, and share the riches of the tradition and present these riches in such a way as to bring them compellingly to the notice of the increasing downtown population, particularly young people? 

     (12) Study how forums and other educational programs might enrich, and be enriched by, our corporate and personal worship.

     (13) Create a brochure introducing visitors and newcomers to our worship practices in our sacred spaces. Work with Newcomers Committee.

     (14) As a Committee, visit our sister Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, as a learning and team-building experience, and as a gesture of neighborliness.

     (15) Discovering or creating an explicit motto or policy for us (and the Cathedral) to the effect that we do our best (1) to help everyone know what each participant is expected to do, and (2) to be understanding when there is a flub. 

     (16) Explanations of seasonal and occasional changes in the liturgy (for example, the congregation prays the Psalms in summer; the Choir otherwise chants them, and the Pascal candle at memorial service).

     (17a) Suggest the clergy reinforce the training of Eucharistic Ministers and Priests by reminding them of the BCP words to be spoken to each communicant, regardless of age; and that following the rubrics of the BCP are expected.
     (17b) Personal greetings between the minister and the communicant are to be eschewed, with variation only for purposes of health, safety, and security, and other such extraordinary situations. Specifically, ministers are expected to speak the words of communion audibly with neither familiarity nor disdain, without undue haste, so that the communicant can respond appropriately. GHTC is not a fast-food establishment, nor is the congregation to be served by either robots or buddy-buddies. The communion rail is no place for priestly arrogance, for we are servants to one another in our baptism, with different roles but equally members of the body of Christ. 
     (17c) Rather than causing waiting for gluten-free bread, some might be included on the paten during the preparations for serving communion. 
     (17d) Some are of the view that Cathedral parish practices such as using bread or wafer should be determined by consulation between the committee representing the congregation and the priests. Chanting of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Anaphora, should routionely be done in a traditional style, that is, without vibrato. Some say such matters require consideration by both the laity and clergy jointly because liturgy is "the work of the people," not a production by the priests. A priest alone cannot celebrate the Eucharist. 

     (18) Examine the customs of liturgical practice by season and recommend to the clergy keeping or changing them, for example, whether Old Testament readings should be omitted in the summer, whether Eucharistic Ministers should always be vested, etc.

     (19) In the Committee's job description, work toward a comprehensive recognition of all worship elements by adding things such as flowers and children's presence and participation, as areas Committee might find ways to encourage and support. Many think that young children, like many adults, learn the practice of faith (are formed) by presence and imitation, by doing (ritual) more easily than through most kinds of merely verbal instruction. 

     (20) Examine our frequency for the use of incense -- when is it appropriate and what does it mean?

     (21) How do we evaluate the suggestion that a font or vessel (stoup) of holy water be available in the tower or at the entrance to the nave? How do we evaluate concerns about hygiene and disease?

     (22) Would "notching" the 8 am service pages of the printed bulletin help newcomers at 10:15 realize the booklet contains two somewhat different services?

     (23) Is it worth the effort (and is it likely to succeed?) to train the children to process behind the Scripture when they depart from the front of the nave for Children's Chapel? 

     (24) Suggest that Prayers of the People, rather than emphasizing our petition for finding what is common, instead focus on valuing differences as gifts by which we can be mutually enriched.

     (25) Promote a better understanding of what the "peace" is, and means, in our liturgy. ["Passing of Peace protocols: Surveys of guests about Passing the Peace are very interesting and surprisingly one of the big things that can turn a guest off.  Do we use pass the peace as a chat time with people we know? What should you say to a person you don’t recognize?  Is that person a guest or a member who attends irregularly or at a different service time? This is a time when guests can feel very awkward.  Some may not even know what it is.  And who wants to be hugged by a stranger?  In any case the Service should move along and not  unduly extended in a congregational love feast." Newcomer committee.]

     (26) A diversity of opinion exists about the congregation's expectations of our preachers. Some wish our preachers to speak for 8-10 minutes at most on most occasions, and to illumine a scriptural text appointed for the day with application for our lives. Some wish sermons which more frequently met Cathedral standards. Divisive political content is seldom helpful and often damaging, while others feel addressing concerns in the public sphere is an essential task of preaching.

     (28) Candles are routinely lit as the service begins to mark the holiness of this time, the illumination that comes from God, and so forth. Should water be poured into the baptismal font at the same time to remind us of our baptisms? -- except for services when there are baptisms, when the pouring of water is part of the sacred ritual?

     (29a) Within GHTC individual practices vary about using the offering plate to support the Cathedral and its work, from those who pay a yearly pledge in one lump sum on one hand, to those on the other who use the plate each Sunday to render their support. Surely all support in whatever manner is welcome. But are their spiritual considerations which might guide the worshiper in determining which practice is most appropriate in each situation? How can folks find the most appropriate way to decide -- since all things come from God -- not "How much should I give?" but rather, "How much should I keep?" 
     (29b) Is there some way to highlight the theme that oblation bearers present the offering on behalf of all of us? -- perhaps by naming them aloud during the announcements before the service begins (and if they have been selected for a special reason, such as newly baptized, etc) -- or some other way, perhaps with a side note in the bulletin to the effect that "oblation bearers selected for each service offer bread and wine to be consecrated on behalf of all of us."
     (29c) It should be made clear that the weekly ritual of celebrating birthdays and anniversaries includes both those present and those not present.

    (30) If the Dean might endorse and the Bishop might permit, as a trial or draft offering to the tradition of the ongoing revision of the BCP, and in the recognition of "original grace," we might consider discussing the possibility of a preface to the beautiful and meaningful words of confession found BCP 360, such as

Most bountiful God,
we admit to ourselves and to each other--
that sometimes our joy is so great we lose self-consciousness; we are emptied of our selfishness 
    and find ourselves as one in Christ,
that our love is so expansive we accept with gratitude 
    all you have prepared for us,
that we feel Christ's compassion without limit,
and that as a result we and others have lived fully with faith.
For such moments of holy blessing, we give thanks.

Most merciful God,
we also confess . . . .

     (31) Is there enough diversity in our worship and liturgical styles to meet a range of spiritual needs of the congregation?

     (32) Check that the pulpit microphone includes a compressor to boost soft speech and reduce too-loud speech, reducing the dynamic range for easier listening and understanding.

     (33) Our website relating to worship promises more than it delivers -- for example, the sermons are old and sparse.

     (34) Routinely submit a free notice of worship experiences to The Star for its faith listings, Choral Evensong, for example.

     (35) Flower arrangements, as they have been, should be splendid.

     (36) Errors will always occur. Vigilence is needed to avoid, for example, the wrong name in the text of a memorial service -- such errors do not match the dignity of the deceased or the Cathedral.

     (37) Cathedral acolytes and ushers deserve clear instructions and superior training. Oblation bearers and layfolk to stand at the Holy Table might benefit from a simple sheet of instructions when they are invited to take part of Holy Communion in these ways.

     (38) A young priest would provide a visual message that the Cathedral involves young people.

     (39) Strong ties to major artistic organizations would help us enhance our worship. We have good relations with the Friends of Chamber Music (we are the venue selected to present The Play of Daniel January 19), but building relations with the Lyric Opera, the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet, and the Conservatory would be mutually beneficial. The same might be true of live theater companies.

     (40) As a Cathedral, we have an opportunity to gather folks from many faiths for special interfaith liturgical events.

     (41) Study each service slot (with its differences) we offer and will offer to be sure a clear rational can be articulated to justify them to honor those who find them meaningful. 

     (42) Some feel printing announcements should mean it is possible to limit the number of announcements made during the service which some think begins with the organ prelude.

     (43) Recommend to the clergy a restoration of the practice of chanting the "AMEN" (BCP 363) before the invitation to say the Lord's Prayer when the Eucharistic Prayer includes chant.

     (44) Explore the possibility of GHTC members and those from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception meeting once or for a number of sessions to discuss our shared love of liturgy and gain insights into how we, from various backgrounds, experience and understand divine worship.

     (45) Each Sunday highlight a ministry at the Cathedral -- Holy Hands, Children's Chapel, Ushers, Altar Guild, Choirs, and so on; and commissioning for the coming year. We are grateful for each other as we enrich the life of the Cathedral as we serve God.

     (46) Initiate the ritual of the commissioning of the Eucharistic Visitors with the congregation standing.

     (47) Initiate a practice of readying the kneelers after the Sursum Corda so that those who kneel after the Sanctus et Benedictus will already have them in place. Or perhaps better, during the Offertory. And suggest those who prefer to stand use rear pews so the view of the Holy Table of those who kneel will not be obstructed by those who stand. While most worshippers at GHTC practice kneeling during the Sanctus et Benedictus, some prefer to stand. A discussion of the theology and devotional preferences undergirding each practice would bring better understanding of why we do what we do. (Both practices are suggested in the BCP, as for example, on page 362.

     (48) Institute Sunday compline services with outreach to the wider community.

     (49) Offer more festival observances to acquaint the community with our presence and traditions. While the 2017 and 2018 Candlemas (Feb 2) offerings were not organized by the Cathedral, and were publicized including with major stories in The Kansas City Star, the Cathedral might offer such experiences as a way of enhancing our visibility in the community as well as better observing our own liturgical year. (The 2018 program also involved a complimentary reception, a short organ recital, and a "curated" viewing of volumes of the Saint John's Bible, and was very well attended by folks from the wider community as well as our own membership.) Other options might include Georgemas (Apr 23) and Michaelmas (Sept 29). Because of the unique history the Cathedral has as the central church for the city-wide 2002 Sept 11 observance of the events a year earlier, an annual event might be created, or an Independence Day observance for city-wide participation initiated. The Committee might continue brainstorming along these lines since what we offer the community above all is our extraordinary tradition of liturgically expressing our gratitude for God's grace.

     (50) Visiting clergy, especially when they are unaccompanied by a resident clergyperson, should be made aware of proper Cathedral vestments, liturgical colors, and such, when they agree to an engagement, so they can avoid incidents, as for example, wearing the Easter chasable during a Lenten 5 pm Eucharist.

     (51) When a liturgical accident happens, those presiding should know how to call for assistance if needed. For example, if consecrated wine is spilt, the celebrant may ask for assistance as appropriate and provide appropriate instructions to those assisting. 

     (52) Since it is often difficult for our worship leaders to observe a significant pause between the collect of the day and the sending of the children (almost as if the collect continues: " . . . through Christ our Lord, amen, now I would like to invite the children forward . . .), a musical interlude might be interposed, such as now follows the sending of the children.

     (53) Consider abandoning the annual "noisy offering" or developing it into an actual distinct ceremony. The beauty of the Cathedral is not enhanced by an ugly can, and the beauty of choral or organ music is not enriched by the sound of coins tossed in a bucket. It may not help when the leaders ask questions like, "How many of you remembered to bring your loose change today?" While compliant parishioners can give themselves gold stars, those who forgot, or did not intend to participate, need not be shamed by the priesthood.

    (54) For those hard of hearing and others who wish to follow along, and have to take home for futher blessing, the text of prepared sermons could be made available on the table in the cross-aise as one enters from the tower, as was formerly the custom.

     (99) Exploring St. Mary's.-- St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, located at 1307 Holmes, was founded in 1857 and was the first Episcopal church in our Diocese. Committee members are invited to explore the 160 year history of this parish through a tour (to be scheduled) with Deacon Jerry Grabher, who would appreciate knowing your interest --  j.grabher3@gmail.com or 816.590.6205.