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March 2006

Expanding the Conversation: Knitting Together Worship and Congregational Life

RW is grateful for continuing encouragement and support from CICW. This guest editorial is the third in a series during our twentieth anniversary year, following Robert Webber (RW 77) and Bert Polman (RW 78).

We Need Every Part of the Body: Including People with Disabilities

Hope Network ( has a large number of services to enhance the dignity and independence of persons who have a disability and/or are disadvantaged. Cornelison’s work in the West Michigan office is to connect clients to churches where all God’s people can grow in love for and ministry with each other. Over 2,100 people work in one of Hope Network’s more than 190 different locations throughout Michigan.

The Incarnation Continues: Recovering the Importance of the Ascension

It seems to me that people are no longer asking the question to which the ascension is the answer. For the Reformed tradition, the doctrine of God’s transcendence, God’s otherness, God’s glory, and God’s sovereignty are central, coupled with an awareness of God as our Creator, the one for whom we are made. Such an understanding of God raises the need for a mediator as our most profound existential question.

"Can You Hear Me Now?": Making Your Monitors Work for You

“Can I Get More of Myself in the Monitors, Please?”

The King of Glory Now: A Service Celebrating the Ascension of Christ

Last year three pastors of neighboring churches wanted to help our congregations celebrate Ascension Day as a high point of the Christian year. We decided to hold a combined service the Sunday before Ascension Day (Ascension Day is May 25 in 2006), and publicized it as a coronation service.

A Singing Faith: CDs That Celebrate Congregational Song

Ours is a singing faith! John Calvin says that the human voice is the most God-glorifying instrument, for it is created and given breath by God. We could add to Calvin’s observation that even more God-glorifying than the human voice are human voices singing praise to God.

We are fortunate to live in a time when worshiping communities can share musical gifts anywhere at any time through the medium of compact disc recordings. Recordings can bring us right into the middle of a community of voices singing God’s praise.

Pastors as Mentors and Coaches: Equipping Lay Leaders in Small Churches

Together, Christine O’Reilly and Peter Bush are theauthors of Where Twentyor Thirty Are Gathered:Leading Worship in theSmall Church (Alban, 2006).

Book: The Worshiping Life: Meditations on the Order of Worship

Lisa Nichols Hickman (Louisville:Westminster/John Knox, 2005). 162 pp. $14.95.

This is a rich, nourishing book. Arranged according to the order of worship (Gathering, Proclaiming, Responding, Sealing, Bearing Out), each piece offers an insightful and inviting look at the moves of worship.

Building for Memory

How Church Buildings Can Express God's Faithfulness

About once a quarter on a Saturday, it would fall on my plate tolead a new members’ class for those who’d expressed interest in joiningthe church. Most of the teaching took place in the church’s Christianeducation building. At the end of the class, however, I would walk thegroup across the churchyard for a quick tour of the sanctuary.


A Correction in “The Chief Cornerstone”

Thank you so much for sending me a copy of Reformed Worship (78, December 2005). I really enjoyed it all, especially, of course, the fine article by Gracia Grindal.

You're Invited: A Four-Week Series Focusing on Your Witness and Mission to the World

Worship planning for Pentecost may be challenging, but a wealth of creative resources are available. Much attention has been given to this high, holy day. Pentecost, with its focus on the death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to empower us with the Holy Spirit, is the culmination of the Easter season. But what about the Sundays following Pentecost?


Emily Brink to Step Down as Editor

Consider Those "In Between" Words: Spoken Transitions in Worship

This article is culled from a series of workshops in several locations sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship during the fall of 2005.

There's an Elephant in Our Sanctuary

What to Do with the Projection Screen

Many of our worship spaces were constructed before the era of projection screens. Like my church, they’re likely to have a cross prominently placed up front, with lights and speakers and organ pipes positioned “just so.”

Enter the ten- by ten-foot white elephant some of these same churches have incorporated into their worship—the projection screen. What do we do with this beast?

Sing With Me: Introducing a Children's Songbook

How many of us remember the specific lessons we learned in Sunday school? Probably not very many. But how about the songs we sang in those same Sunday school classes? Do you remember the words to “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Away in a Manger,” or “O Be Careful, Little Eyes”?

Many Gifts, One Lord: A Communion Service Based on 1 Corinthians

The article on page 18 stressed the importance of transitions and “in between” words. This service provides many examples of such words. The service was submitted by Elly Van Alten, a member of the worship committee at Trinity. “Not only was this a unique and meaningful way to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and hear his Word,” she wrote, “but the theme of unity was particularly meaningful as our council was then seeking nominations for officebearers.

"Acts and Letters" Song Search Results

In last year’s March issue (RW 75) we announced an international search for new song texts based on New Testament passages. The announcement also appeared on our website and in the newsletter of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada. To our delight, ninety texts by forty-two writers came in from all over the English-speaking world, including England, Scotland, and New Zealand, as well as the United States and Canada.

From an English Lesson to a Church: Lao Unity Church, Sioux City Iowa

A slightly misspelled sign at the rear of the sanctuary of Lao Unity Church, Sioux City, Iowa, encourages worshipers to remove their hats during worship. If you ask Keo Phommarath, one of Lao Unity’s two pastors, about the sign, he’ll take you back to Laos, homeland of most of the congregation, explaining that the Asian people who visit the church will understand the gesture.

Black and Reformed: Perspective from Five African American Leaders

Several African American pastors and leaders in West Michigan churches began meeting regularly a couple of years ago for study and encouragement with the help of a Lilly-funded Peer Learning Group. A recurring theme in their discussions has been how to function as African Americans in ministry in a way that integrates their Reformed theology; they have been especially eager to find creative ways to reach urban African American youth. One of the books they read together, On Being Black and Reformed, is reviewed on page 34.

Giving Everyone a Voice: How We Used a Song Survey for Teaching, Ownership, Renewal, and Unity

As the new chapel interns at Fuller Seminary gathered to begin planning worship at the beginning of the year, it became apparent that we had a problem. After we’d assembled our raw materials—piles of hymnals, sheaves of guitar fake sheets, and stacks of songbooks, there was little room left on the table for our pencils and notepads. The collection was just too cumbersome to work with.

"You Shall Be My Witnesses": Pentecost Service

The love of God has been poured into ourhearts through the Holy Spirit that hasbeen given to us” (Rom. 5:5). By pouringlove for God into our hearts, the Spiritgathers and forms a new community.

Hand Drumming

Q. Because drum kits (as in the rock tradition) are so often seen and used in worship, many people assume that they are the only way to include drumming and percussion in worship. But aren’t hand percussion instruments as used in the African tradition—djembe, other smaller hand drums, and even tambourines—more useful?

Learning from Creative Tension: Observations on Alternative/Emerging Worship in England

Ron Rienstra and his family spent a semester in London, England, in 2004.