Book: Celebrate God's Presence: A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada.

Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2000. The United Church of Canada, 3250 Bloor Street West, Suite 300, Etobicoke, ON M8X 2Y4. 1-877-252-2552. Three-ring binder, 766 pp. $49.95 US. CD-ROM has downloadable text as well as biblical and topical indexes (i.e. no search capacity).

This very substantive collection of liturgical resources is a companion to Voices United (1996), the hymnal of the United Church of Canada. Many denominations have produced worship books—the 1993 Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is one of the very best, taking advantage of a great deal of ecumenical scholarship based on a study of the early church and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The material in that collection sticks more closely to resources for Sunday worship. This new collection, more diverse and eclectic, stands on the shoulders of that and other recent worship books. Also included are some prayers in languages other than English.

The sections include resources for

  • Weekly Worship (228 pp.): General and Seasonal (the Christian year, creeds, and selected prayers in translation)
  • The Sacrament of Communion (91 pp.; a service and many additional resources for “Prayers at Table,” including references to sung prayers available in the hymnal; curiously, the Sanctus-Benedictus is named “Song of Creation.”)
  • The Covenant of Baptism (64 pp.; also Renewal of Baptism and Welcoming of New Members)
  • The Covenant of Marriage and Life Partnership (75 pp.; several services, also one for Renewal of Vows)
  • “In Life, in Death . . .” Funeral Resources (85 pp.; services and many prayers for particular pastoral situations)
  • Pastoral Occasions (218 pp.; including such varied resources as Praying Through the Year and Services of Recognition, of Dedication, for the Home, of Healing, of Reconciliation, of Closure, and To Resist Evil.
  • Services of Daily Prayer (10 pp.)

The collection ends with Tables of Major Celebrations in the Liturgical Calendar and two indexes: an “Alpha-Numeric System for the Prayers” and Acknowledgements. Figuring out the Acknowledgements is a bit complex; perhaps the CD-ROM will make that easier.

As with every collection that comes from a particular heritage, other churches will be able to discern much that is useful and helpful for their own contexts.

Emily R. Brink (embrink@calvin.edu) is Senior Research Fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and former editor of Reformed Worship.