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Book: Christian Worship in Reformed Churches Past and Present

Lukas Vischer, editor. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. 432 pp. $40.00. www.eerdmans.com.

In the September 2001 issue of Reformed Worship (RW 61, p. 2), I reported on a trip to Geneva to attend an International Consultation on Reformed Worship. More than thirty people from almost as many countries gathered for a week at the John Knox Center (associated with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches). This book is the result of that consultation.

I am too close to this collection of essays to offer a review, since I met all the people included in this collection of articles devoted to a picture of the state of worship in Reformed churches around the world. But here is a brief introduction to what is included.

The first section covers historical and geographical ground from the sixteenth-century beginnings (Elsie Ann McKee) to the current picture in Continental Europe (Bruno Burki), the United Kingdom (Brian Spinks and Alan Sell), North America (Marsha M. Wilfong), and the twentieth-century ecumenical movement (Alan D. Faulkener).

Next are articles on South Africa (Coenraad Burger), Indonesia (Ester Pudjo Widiasih), Korea (Seong-Won Park), East Africa (Isaiah Wahome Muita), West Africa (Livingstone Buama), the Congo (Kasonga wa Kasonga), Brazil (Gerson Correia de Lacerda), the Pacific (Baranite T. Kirata), and Australia (Geraldine Wheeler).

The second section of the book provides “A Common Reflection on Christian Worship in Reformed Churches Today,” the result of our collaborative efforts during that stimulating week.

The final section elaborates on some contemporary issues, including articles on Word and Sacrament (Joseph D. Small), music issues worldwide (Emily R. Brink and John D. Witvliet), symbols and visual arts (Geraldine Wheeler), women (Leonora Tubbs Tisdale), calendar and lectionary (Horace T. Allen Jr.), and worship as witness to society (Lukas Vischer).

All together, this collection presents a remarkably diverse picture of those who stand with the Reformed tradition, and yet it bears witness to the underlying unity of the body of Christ. Reading this book will increase your new appreciation of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”