What should I wear to church?
Wear what you are comfortable with. You will see people who are casual, semi-casual, and people wearing suits. Come as you are.
What kind of music do you sing?
We sing a variety of praise songs, hymns, and contemporary songs that seek to bring theological and biblical praise to God. We use a piano, organ, instruments, and our voices to join in communal worship to God.
What style of worship do you have?
Blended. We believe in all forms of authentic worship that seek to have biblical and God focused worship, which is Spirit-filled worship. Worship also seeks to supply people with what they need in their walk with God. We can employ hymns, praise songs, guitars, organ, piano, instrumentalists, drama, art, scripture, prayer, mediation, praise, communion, baptism, and lament to worship God. The labels of “traditional”, “contemporary ”, or “liturgical” tend to point that all other forms of worship are somehow how unimportant. Our worship is blended to remember the traditions and the celebrations of worship in our lives. Worship must also be relevant, or worship for the church-goer does not make sense. All of these elements have been used at our church and worship will reflect the diversity of tradition of our congregants.
Why does the Pastor wear a robe?
You may have noticed that the Pastor wears a robe and a stole every Sunday. Some contemporary Baptists in southern and rural regions of the country may not be accustomed to their Pastor wearing a robe. Robes were employed by protestant and Baptist clergy in New England, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of Virginia. Historically, the black robe came from the medieval era where the clergy were the teachers in schools, colleges, and seminaries who wore robes. This academic/church beginning carried over into worship. Several protestant reformers were known to wear a black robe instead of priestly vestments, which followed their progressive theology as we know today as found in protestant churches. Before the 20th century, many protestant pastors wore robes.
A robe helps emphasize the office of the pastor and de-emphasize the personality of the person in the pulpit or leading worship. The pastor is not a businessman or a CEO of a religious organization. Often, wearing clothing that is too causal or too “business” like for worship leaders can detract away from the most important thing: the worship of God. The type of dress should not be a sign of good fashion in a nice suit, but rather the Word of God should be the focus.
What is that garment around the Pastor’s neck?
The garment around the Pastor’s neck is called a stole. The stole is reserved for those ministers who have been ordained or “set aside” to do the special work of ministry as a pastor. Usually, the biblical image of the “laying of hands” is completed only after an individual has completed many years of study, education, training, spiritual searching, and faith development.
The image of the stole harks back to image of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. It said that Jesus used a cloth, possibly around his neck, to wash his disciple’s feet. This image of servanthood is conveyed with the stole. In addition, many trades through the centuries included the trades-person to wear a towel around their neck for washing hands or cleaning. Again, this servant “work” image is conveyed through the stole as the Pastor wears it for worship services. The stole may also have arose out of the Jewish tallit a type of prayer shawl that was used during times of prayer.
What do the colors of the stole mean?
Often, we forget about the symbolic nature of elements in worship. There is the cross, reminding us about Christ’s sacrifice for us. Candles, reminding us the nature of Christ’s light in the world. The Communion table, signifying the communal nature of sharing fellowship with each other in Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. There many elements that offer theological significance to worship. The liturgical (liturgy meaning, “work of the people”) value in color corresponds to Christian or Liturgical Church Calendar. The following colors reflect the “season”:
- Purple or Blue: The Seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Lent. Purple is often associated with the royalty of Christ. Blue is often associated with peace.
- Green: “Season After Epiphany” or “Ordinary Time”, symbolizing the color growth in spirituality or faith reflected in the scriptures.
- White: Easter, Epiphany, and Weddings reflects the purity in Christ, hope, and His resurrection. Sometimes used for funerals.
- Red: Pentecost, All Soul’s Day, or ordinations is symbolic of the fire of the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost in Acts. Also represents the blood of Christ and the blood of those who have passed away in the faith.
- Grey/Black/Dark Purple: Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, or sometimes funerals. Reflects the death or morality of Christ and our shared humanity.
These colors can be used as paraments or special cloth to designate the season on the pulpit, communion table, or other areas of the sanctuary.
What is the Lectionary?
The Revised Common Lectionary is a three year cycle of scripture readings from the Old Testament, Psalms, Gospels, and the Epistles writings. This covers the vast majority of the Bible over a three year time. This enables people to respond to the whole Bible in worship and for congregations to learn or relearn the important stories, people, facts, and teachings of scripture. The Lectionary and the Christian Calendar follow the church seasons in one fashion (i.e. Advent: Christmas readings, Easter: Resurrection story, etc…)
The American Baptist Churches U.S.A. is a participant in the Revised Common Lectionary with other Christian traditions such as Disciples of Christ, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other Baptists.
What is the Christian Calendar?
We follow the Christian Calendar because it helps us remember the highlights of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. It also helps us share the story of Jesus with people who are new to the Christian faith. In addition, it helps us remember the stories of the Bible that correspond to the Gospel story in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.
The Christian calendar is divided into two parts. In the first part we remember our Lord’s arrival, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. In the second part we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost, our sharing in the life of the Trinity, and our long discipleship with other “saints” under the overarching lordship of Jesus Christ.
The Christian calendar begins with the four Sundays of Advent during which we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and also wait for His second coming (advent). After Christmas Day comes the season of Epiphany which starts with the Magi arriving in Bethlehem and Jesus being “shown” to them (Epiphany means “manifestation”). The Gospel readings often focus on the early years of Jesus’ ministry.
The season of Lent starts with Ash Wednesday in which we confront our sin and mortality. The 40 days of Lent (excluding the six Sundays) to remember Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. Christians from the seventh century on have used it as a time of preparation for the Easter. This could be a time for repentance, denial of certain things, acts of devotion, or reflection on the meaning of Christ’s death.
The Easter season begins with Palm Sunday in which we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday we recall Christ’s supper with His disciples and their observing the Passover meal together. On Good Friday we remember Jesus’ death on the cross, and share the disciple’s grief and loss. When Easter Sunday arrives, we are ready to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and grow our hope of the resurrection. During the following five weeks the celebration remains as we read stories of how Jesus appeared to the disciples on certain occasions, proclaiming that he had risen from the dead. Then come the Sundays when we remember Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the Day of Pentecost when we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples.
During the last five months of the Christian calendar we celebrate the work of Jesus on our behalf, consider what it means to follow Him in this world, and wait for His second coming.
Why does all this matter?
Worship should share some sense of biblical grounding guided by theology for the worship of God. Worship started all the back in Genesis and continues through the book of Revelation. Throughout the Bible, worship has always been guided by the theological purpose of God’s work among His people. By using things like the lectionary, the church calendar, and a variety of styles of worship elements we can expose each other to the wonders of worship in community.