Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Worship Space

Some worship spaces we encountered in the last couple of weeks on the journey...

The Rev. Joanne Sanders, Associate Dean for Religious Life at Stanford showed us the interfaith worship space. It has nooks for meditation, open space for each group to configure, and artistic banners representing several traditions. There are even special washrooms around the corner designed just for foot washing, a Muslim tradition before prayer.

At Glide Memorial in downtown San Francisco, about 500 people packed into the sanctuary for the early 9 a.m. service. They anticipate crowds every Sunday and add extra seats to aisles. The band is to the right in the picture. The full choir filled the stage for the service. They recorded part of a Christmas album live the day we visited. Rocking. Hopefully they'll sell it online.

This is part of the unique building of St. Gregory's Episcopal Church in San Francisco. They built it to fit their liturgical traditions. There is an saying in churchy circles, "The building always wins." This means no matter what your theology or congregation, if there is a giant pulpit, or an altar rail, or pews all facing forward, or pictures of just white men in all the stained glass windows, it says something. And even when your theology is trying to focus on something more egalitarian and multi-cultural, it's going to be really hard, because "The building always wins." So anyway, St. Gregory's built their own building.

Eucharist happens in the round hall. On the walls above is a 360 mural of saints through the centuries. They are dancing. Some you'd expect, St. Francis dancing with a wolf, and others are more surprising finds in a Christian place of worship, like Gandhi and Malcolm X.

During worship the congregation sits facing one another. The liturgical leaders sit near the painting as seen above. The preacher sits on something like a flat throne.

Some of the many crosses of St. Gregory's.

The baptism font was outside on a side porch. The Sunday we attended two kids were baptised and the whole church danced outside to gather around. It took about five conga lines, but we all got out there.

Thad's in Los Angeles is also an Episcopal inspired church. They meet in the Jazz Bakery, a non-profit Jazz club, though the music of Thad's is more rock-a-billy, blue grass than jazzy. They will have a cd out soon of some of their original music. The band creates a song to go along with the scripture reading. They finished 61 weeks of preaching through 1 Corinthians the day we visited. Yes, folks sixty one weeks. Check their website for this great find and really good, original, spiritual themed music.

The coast of the western United States is a worship space like no other.

Sometimes evening prayer needs no words.

1 comment:

tamie, the tamie said...

of all the churches you put pictures up of, i like the outside the best. always have. but st. gregory's was pretty cool too.