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Author Topic: Curiosity Question about the changing Protestant Liturgy  (Read 414 times) Average Rating: 0
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Yurysprudentsiya
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« on: June 25, 2013, 09:05:50 AM »

Before I was received into the Orthodox Church, I was a member of the United Methodist Church.  There I received much spiritual grounding for which I remain grateful.   When I started attending those churches, the services were very similar to what I consider "classical Protestant" worship - a printed opening litany or call-and-response, singing of hymns from a hymnal, choir anthem, lengthy pastoral prayer / Lord's prayer, offering of money, lengthy sermon, and, once a month or quarter, a service of Holy Communion using the official denominational liturgy for same.  But, over time, I noticed some changes in our local congregation as well as other congregations.  These seemed to begin about the mid to late '90s.  From visiting other churches during these years (and early 2000s) I saw these practices taking hold in other "mainline" denominations as well, such as the United Church of Christ and probably others.  Here are the practices I am curious about:

1.  The emergence of a time of sharing "joys and concerns," where congregants would call out (for want of a better term) good things that happened to them during the week, and ask for prayer for relatives, neighbors, themselves for things like surgeries, bereavements, etc.  In some cases these seemed to devolve into bragging sessions, i.e., I thank God that my sister got a new job, or, Pray for me as I go on this big vacation, etc.  Some churches even passed a microphone back and forth.

2.  An expansion of the "passing of the peace" into an all-out "greeting" taking 5-10 minutes where people ran all over the church, shaking hands, catching up, etc., in the middle of the service.

I am very curious to know how these practices in particular seemed to come out of nowhere in this period (1990s/early 2000s) and take hold in congregations across denominations all over the place.  When I was a member of these churches I tried (in vain) to push for curtailing some of this activity because I felt it took the emphasis off of God and made it an informal "us" time.  But I was rarely successful on these fronts.  (That sense that worship should be directed toward God, rather than revolving around "us," was a major factor in my coming to Orthodoxy.)

I suppose there is no practical reason for me to know the history of these practices but it is something very curious to me, to this day.  I haven't found any answers although the whole "joys and concerns" thing is very popular among Unitarian Universalists . . . but that doesn't explain to me at all how these congregations (which were conservative rural congregations in mainline denominations, and by no means the stereotypical "megachurches") would adopt such practices.

Perhaps someone who converted from Protestantism or remains there might be able to answer my questions.
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Nephi
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 11:14:58 AM »

1.  The emergence of a time of sharing "joys and concerns," where congregants would call out (for want of a better term) good things that happened to them during the week, and ask for prayer for relatives, neighbors, themselves for things like surgeries, bereavements, etc.  In some cases these seemed to devolve into bragging sessions, i.e., I thank God that my sister got a new job, or, Pray for me as I go on this big vacation, etc.  Some churches even passed a microphone back and forth.

2.  An expansion of the "passing of the peace" into an all-out "greeting" taking 5-10 minutes where people ran all over the church, shaking hands, catching up, etc., in the middle of the service.

I've experienced both of these at Nazarene, Baptist, Church of God, and Church of Christ (Campbellite) churches. So it's not limited to UU's nor megachurches, although it is curious that they'd leak into the somewhat more liturgical mainline denominations. Maybe the individual mainline parishes that incorporated these were trying to "shake things up" and appeal to people or be "relevant." Seems to be why some Catholic parishes make the peace into a massive greeting period. But IDK, someone else may know more.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2013, 11:21:55 AM »

Not sure which of the 174 Church of God's Nephi was speaking of, but I was also part of a Church of God (out of Anderson, IN) in the late 90s and early 00s, and we had these two things as prominent parts of our services. Unfortunately I didn't join until 1997, and they were already in place by then, so I have no idea when or why or how they became part of the services. Fwiw the group I was with was a fairly conservative Wesleyan holiness group.
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Nephi
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2013, 11:29:37 AM »

Not sure which of the 174 Church of God's Nephi was speaking of, but I was also part of a Church of God (out of Anderson, IN)

laugh

I attended briefly the South Portsmouth (KY) Church of God (although I went to their private school for a year), which seems linked with the Winebrenner Theological Seminary and Churches of God, General Conference. Whatever that means.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 11:30:33 AM by Nephi » Logged
Yurysprudentsiya
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2013, 07:35:38 AM »

Thanks for this information.  So it appears that it might have come in by influence from the conservative/holiness denominations, which also had/have a big influence in parts of the UMC.  So where did they get it, and for how long???  Very curious.

Ah, yes, the Church of God (Winebrenner).  They have been around since the 1830s when a Reformed pastor named Rev. John Winebrenner began holding revival meetings in his church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and got thrown out by some of the congregants who didn't like it. 
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