Archive for Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mass appeal: Old-style service drawing young crowd

The Rev. Paul McLain waves incense at the parishioners of the Solemn High Mass at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt. The smell of the incense aims to invoke the presence of God.

The Rev. Paul McLain waves incense at the parishioners of the Solemn High Mass at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt. The smell of the incense aims to invoke the presence of God.

August 29, 2009

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Frankincense is used abundantly at the Solemn High Mass on Sunday evenings at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.

Frankincense is used abundantly at the Solemn High Mass on Sunday evenings at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.

Anna Hoard, Topeka, and Chad Payton, Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., sing at Trinity Episcopal Church. Both singers are studying opera performance at Kansas University.

Anna Hoard, Topeka, and Chad Payton, Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., sing at Trinity Episcopal Church. Both singers are studying opera performance at Kansas University.

The Rev. Paul K. McLain gives communion to parishioners at the Solemn High Mass at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.

The Rev. Paul K. McLain gives communion to parishioners at the Solemn High Mass at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.

When introducing a new service these days, most churches seem to go the rock ‘n’ roll route — something new to bring in a younger crowd.

To say that Trinity Episcopal Church went in another direction might be a bit of an understatement.

When the church decided to add a new service in fall 2006, instead of looking forward, it looked back.

Way back. As in the fourth century.

The result is a unique celebration of Christianity referred to as the Solemn High Mass. A mystical meeting of old traditions in a setting where blue jeans and T-shirts are appropriate, the Sunday night service features incense, music and what the church, 1011 Vt., refers to as all of the “major propers” including the Kyrie Eleison, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Credo, the Sanctus and Benedictus and the Agnus Dei, which are chanted.

Performed only during the Kansas University school year, the service, which began its 2009-2010 season last Sunday evening, has snagged a crowd young and old, Episcopalian and not, says the Rev. Paul McLain, the church’s curate.

“You’ll see some students here tonight, of course, a lot students in the choir,” McLain says before the first service of the year, which drew about 50 people to Mass and the free dinner that follows it each week. “But then you’ll see members of the congregation in all age groups, who have been attracted to the service and many newcomers. And we have people who drive in from as far away as Kansas City because it is such a unique service.”

A tradition using tradition

Solemn High Mass was introduced to Trinity in 2006 by its former rector, the Rev. Jonathon Jensen. Before leaving in June for his current post at the Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock, Ark., Jensen described his thoughts behind the addition of the old-style service this way: “We wanted to create something new that was different from what other places could offer in Lawrence. Lots of churches in Lawrence do contemporary worship, and that’s wonderful, but this is a 150-year-old downtown church that looks like an old English church and we have a fantastic organ and a wonderful chorale tradition, and we know what we can do best. And it’s not contemporary. It’s that (old style). And, so, we wanted to have this distinct offering.”

Hooked right away was KU junior Ryan Hood, who, though raised in a different faith tradition, was quite enamored with the formal style of the service when he first attended as a freshman at the university.

“It is a totally different way for people like me who sort of enjoy the higher style of churching — this is the highest style,” says Hood, attending in a white T-shirt and jeans. “I’ve been to a lot of churches around, and almost no church in the area that I’ve been to does things with as high, sort of formal, style as this is done. It’s very rare. It’s uncommon. Even most Catholic churches don’t do it in high style.”

Impacting the senses

The formality and style come from the service’s substance. Much of the service is sung or chanted by the choir, celebrant or congregation, including the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Communion is given to the congregation in a kneel every Sunday night. The smell of incense is present throughout the ceremony with a thurifer swinging it down the aisle during specific portions of the Mass.

“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the idea that it uses all your senses — it just sort of inundates you with things,” Hood says. “This thing encourages you to smell and to taste, to touch and to see and to hear and just sort of be flooded with ... the presence of God and the presence of everything that we care about. Yeah, it really gets you involved on a totally different level than most services do.”

That difference was felt immediately by the Rev. Ronald Pogue, the church’s interim rector. He was a novice at the execution of a Solemn High Mass, though he says he was excited at the opportunity to be at a church that offers such a service. He believes such a Mass is important to the future of the church — even though it’s such an old style.

“We have noticed a growing interest in ancient or meditative liturgies, particularly among the 18-30 year old age cohort. It’s one aspect of the emerging global cultural shift that is taking place,” Pogue says. “I am proud of Trinity Church in Lawrence and Father Jensen for taking this important step in opening the doors a bit wider to include those who are seeking a service like this.”

Comments

KansasPerson 5 years, 10 months ago

succinct (adj.). 1. Expressed in a few words; concise; terse. 2. Characterized by conciseness or verbal brevity.

stimulus: a noun, not a verb.

clarkbar 5 years, 10 months ago

The priest is not "waving incense" in the first picture above. He is performing the Asperges, sprinkling water on the congregation to remind them of their baptism.

slowplay 5 years, 10 months ago

clarkbar,

You are correct. Also, the good reverend does not seem to know the true meaning of the use of incense.

The rising smoke represents prayer and shows that your prayers are rising too. The smoke reminds you to pray, if you are not praying. The fragrance of the smoke shows that our prayer and service are pleasing to God.

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. . . .“ (Psalm 141: 2)

It has nothing to do with "invoking the presence of God."

Bobo Fleming 5 years, 10 months ago

Im a Catholic but I might go just to bask in all the music.

RachelAnderson 5 years, 10 months ago

St. Sophia Orthodox church (9th and Illinois) has been offering Liturgy and other services (Vespers, etc) for years. Wonderful community, wonderful services.

chalice2 5 years, 10 months ago

Shouldn't our prayer also invoke the presence of God?

To compare the Holy Eucharist to satanic witchcraft is the height of religious bigotry.

I have never attended the Orthodox church in Lawrence, but I am surprised that there is a wonderful community there. I suppose among the Orthodox it might be wonderful, but as a visitor in a few Orthodox churches I was met with suspicion rather than welcome. On the other hand, Trinity was the parish where I became an Episcopalian over 30 years ago and I have only known love, peace, and forgiveness there.

Finally, since God created diversity perhaps it is the Divine will that God be worshiped in diverse ways.

snoozey 5 years, 10 months ago

I would point out, for those not familiar, that the Episcopal faith is somewhat unique among Christianity in that it allows ordination of either men or women to the priesthood, does not (hypocritically) discriminate against homosexuals and supports the prosecution of child molesters.

fosso 5 years, 10 months ago

Information age. Research your antiquated belief systems, written and rewritten. I want to help people understand the meaning of their existence, and comfort them in the thought of death. Give me 10% of your income. But no. I respect you more than that. Great minds can see the ease of controlling people's perception, and they succeed, for noble gains or manipulation of power. I just thought in my life, people would open their minds with the wealth of information available and live life for the good of LIVING people and accept responsibility for their actions NOW, not in some imaginary here-after. Guess it's the curse/blessing of the human race for people to be self centred, scared and delusional. But then throw the word love in there... Existence is so entertaining. Peace.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 10 months ago

1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.— Toad, that under cold stone, Days and nights has thirty-one; Swelter’d venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

---Marioni, why are you writing about Merrill and his roundabouts here?


yes Snoozey, and they choose to ignore direct commandments of God how to operate His church on earth that way. is not discrimination. instead yours is hate speech antireligious bigotry.

the Bible itself has been declared "hate speech" before.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 10 months ago

I second Mr. Lynn. That is so very true.

We're quickly approaching the day where an example of "hate speech" would be:"I disagree with what Mr. Obama is doing."

chalice2 5 years, 10 months ago

Don't be silly. No liberal would say that disagreeing with President Obama is hate speech. However, most of the hysteria from the right wing is pretty hateful. During W's time the quiet protest of a teeshirt that disagreed with Bush was not tolerated, its wearer would be questioned by people who claimed to be the Secret Service, the GOP created the ridiculous "free speech zones" blocks away from Bush, but if we think placards calling for the murder of the President and his family is hate speech the Left has gone too far. All the venom that the right spews forth is text book projection.

And tacitly comparing the Holy Eucharist to satanic witchcraft is religious bigotry.

3ofClubs 5 years, 10 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…

The “Final Answer” on religion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f72CT

3ofClubs writes: One of my personal favorites on religion:

I Ain't Afraid by Holly Near

I ain't afraid of your Yahweh I ain't afraid of your Allah I ain't afraid of your Jesus I'm afraid of what you do in the name of your God

I ain't afraid of your churches I ain't afraid of your temples I ain't afraid of your praying I'm afraid of what you do in the name of your God

slowplay 5 years, 10 months ago

"And tacitly comparing the Holy Eucharist to satanic witchcraft is religious bigotry."...... Not if that person does not believe in the existence of God or Satan. What I find disturbing about anti-religion zealots is that they insist they have a right to preach their atheistic theories, but they continue to ridicule those who are religious. I could care less what your religious beliefs are, just keep it to yourself and quit trying to convert others.

Mary Darst 5 years, 10 months ago

I grew up in the Episcopal Church. When I was young this is the service I grew up to. Today when I go to church, all those prayers that I memorized before conformation are changed. What I could repeat with out looking was all different. There have been alot of things that I have enjoyed that changed with time , but Church was not one of them. If I lived in Lawrence I would be there every Sunday. Maybe that old thinking will spread.

chalice2 5 years, 10 months ago

I think atheists are as capable of bigotry as any narrow-minded "Christian" is.

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