Just Launched: Music and Liturgy with Michael McCarthy

We just launched Music and Liturgy with Michael McCarthy For Individuals and For Groups.

The line often blurs between sacred and secular music. Secular musical styles affect sacred music and vice versa. Where is the line between sacred and secular music? Take the song “John the Revelator” by Son House.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHq0rKYKcn0]

This song is known as one of the most influential blues songs in musical history , but it’s based on the African American church’s old call-and-response gospel tradition. What’s the difference between Son House singing that song in concert with people clapping and singing the response and a soloist singing the same song in church with people singing the response? Could one consider the concert a liturgical event? And is sacred music still considered liturgical when sung in a secular context?

In this course, Michael addresses these questions and many others about liturgical music and its role in contemporary Christianity. Michael examines the role and purpose of church music in the liturgy. He discusses how liturgical music crosses the gamut of styles, genres, and musical traditions. He offers insight into the process by which musical directors utilize music to enhance and reflect other aspects of the liturgy, and he also talks about church music and the liturgical seasons.

In addition to its utility in Christian formation contexts, this course could be used by musical directors, choirs, and music teams to discuss the importance of music in the liturgy. It could also be useful in any kind of focused series on Christian liturgy. For a preview of the course, please click here.

Just Launched: Ministry with Flowers with Linda Roeckelein

We just launched Ministry with Flowers with Linda Roeckelein For Individuals and For Groups.

Church interiors utilize elements from the created world to elevate worship. We pour holy water into fonts, illuminate the altar with flames; filter sunlight through stained glass windows. Our tradition of decorating the altar and other parts of the church with flowers and greenery falls into this pattern. We stimulate our minds into sacred contemplation by meditating on the beauty and artistry of creation; by using flowers and water and fire in symbolic rituals; by using artistry to emulate and celebrate the Creator.

In this course, Linda Roeckelein, who has headed the Washington National Cathedral Flower Guild for decades and has taught many courses on flower arrangement in churches, discusses the ministry of arranging flowers for worship. This is not an instructional course on creating arrangements of church flowers, but rather a discussion of the art of arranging flowers for worship — how the floral arrangers find their materials; why they engage in this art; why and how churches use flowers in liturgy; what tools the artists use; practical details that they must consider.

We hope that Linda’s passion for flowers and love of this ministry inspire those who engage this ministry as much as her wisdom and experience help with practical matters concerning materials and tools.

For a preview of Linda’s course, click here.



Use Technology to Reach Out to Homebound People in Your Parish

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Online technology offers exciting opportunities for churches to reach out to people who cannot attend services or activities due to illness or infirmity. Here are a few suggestions for ways in which technology can help churches reach out to people who are homebound or otherwise unable to manage regular church attendance and include them in the life of your parish.

nice old ladyPlease note that in many of these cases, it helps if people from the parish communicate to both homebound parishioners and their caregivers about these opportunities, since some of these parishioners may need help accessing technological offerings. It can also help for homebound parishioners to enjoy these opportunities in community with others from the parish. Watching and discussing sermons and Christian education opportunities online can offer a rich focus for a pastoral visit — with the added benefit  of being able to pause the activity and return to it later if necessary.

Remember that it won’t do much good to use these resources if homebound parishioners don’t know about them. It’s important to keep reaching out and ensuring that home-bound parishioners and their caregivers are aware of these resources if you want to reach them.

  1. Post a transcript of your sermon on your church webpage or on social media.  You can post a transcript of your sermon in many ways — as a blog post or as a PDF file to which you link on your website or on social media. Home-bound parishioners can read the sermon on their own, with caregivers, or as part of a visit from clergy or parishioners.
  2. Post video or audio recordings of sermons on the church webpage.  People who cannot attend church may have access to some forms of worship — nursing home services, Lay Eucharistic Minister visits, etc. — but it can really mean something to a homebound parishioner to enjoy hearing the clergy from their home parish preach a sermon rather than just reading a transcript. Record your clergy’s sermons and post the audio or video recording to your church’s webpage. Here’s an article showing how to post an audio recording of a sermon online. Here’s one showing how to post a video or an audio recording of a sermon online.
  3. Use online courses to reach out to people who cannot attend parish activities. You can include homebound and infirm parishioners authentically in parish Untitled design (2)activities by making some of the parish’s Christian education opportunities available online. ChurchNext courses are one way to reach out in this way because they are available online, can be taken at each participant’s preferred pace, and include opportunities for online discussion with other parishioners. You might also consider utilizing webcasts for adult forums, lectures, and other educational opportunities, particularly in larger parishes. You can earmark some courses as live and some as live and available via webcast and “market” them accordingly.
  4. Live-stream your church services. This step involves more work and may be more practical mainly for larger parishes, but live webcasts can be an excellent way to make home-bound parishioners feel connected to their home parishes. The clergy can welcome homebound viewers as they do parishioners who are physically present and generally make them feel included. Here’s a page on how to get started webcasting your services.
  5. Teach homebound parishioners how to use online resources.  Some homebound parishioners will know exactly how to use internet technology, and some won’t be able or willing to do so. Others, however, particularly elderly parishioners, may be fully sound of mind and still unclear on how to use many resources on the internet. Appointing someone from the parish to reach out to these parishioners and teach them how to access your church’s online offerings is a good way to include them effectively in the life of your church community.

Does your church use technology to reach out to homebound parishioners? Please comment! We’d like to hear what you do.