Splitting the 10:30 am Service
A reflection by The Rev. Doyt L. Conn, Jr.
(written before he left)
“What? You’re adding two services? Two to Four? Is that necessary?” I know, trust me, this isn’t about looking for more to do. I wrote recently in “Reveling in Inconvenience – aka: a Hot Mess” about the 80% rule regarding a full sanctuary and parking spaces. This 80% rule makes access the argument for the need for more services. It may sound like semantics, but from my point of view, this change is not about creating four services; it is about splitting the 10:30 am service into two. If you’re thinking, “Well, that math doesn’t add up. Sure sounds like four services to me,” you’re right, but bear with me.
We did not have an 80% capacity issue at the 8 am service and that service never drew people away from the 10:30 am service as a natural flood basin. Here is why: the 8 am service is a niche service. It is a Rite I liturgy that seeks to retain the poetry and majesty of the older English tradition. The theology around the Rite I service is much more penitential, and the patterns of liturgy more internal and self-reflective. I love this service, and so do many others. I think it is an important part of our communal worship, and at the same time this service does not have broad appeal. And so, we will push it back a bit on Sunday morning and celebrate it at 7:30 am.
Similarly, the 5 pm service is a niche service, and its existence in our worship life does not serve as a natural flood basin for the 10:30 am service or the 8 am service for that matter. The 5 pm service is developing its own congregation and will continue to do so over time. Parishioners who for whatever reason find a Sunday evening service preferable for their work or the rhythms of their life attend this service. I call the 5 pm service a service of accommodation, in that I hope when you miss a Sunday morning service for travel or other particular events, you will take advantage of this second chance to come to church on Sunday.
So, when I consider our move to 7:30 am and 5 pm Sunday services, I am clear that these services are not set up to help us with the 80% issue at our 10:30 am service. The 7:30 am will continue to honor the beauty of our Rite I liturgy and tradition at Epiphany, and the 5 pm service is a service of accommodation. And now we return us to the 10:30 am service.
You may have noticed that the chancel area, where the choir sits, and the sanctuary, where the clergy and worship leaders sit, are super crowded. We also have sixteen children moving from fifth grade to sixth this coming year, and sixth grade is the year in which one qualifies to serve as an acolyte. We hope many of these young people will answer that call, and more services give them and others many more opportunities to serve. It is our hope that by creating an 8:45 am and 11 am service, we can create two services of scale that make more room for more people on a more regular basis to worship God and to serve.
The 11 am will be the service that is traditional to Epiphany. Our full choir will sing, and it will be the Rite II, more modern liturgy, as said by the priests. During the 11 am service, there will be children’s formation. This service will look just like the old 10:30 am service.
The 8:45 am service will be our more experimental service. Details about this service are not set in stone. The current plan is a Rite II liturgy, sung by the priest, lightly punctuated with incense and a small choir. Pope-ish? Maybe. There are a few things about this “high church mass” that orient my thinking around giving this worship style a try. First, it creates more ways in which acolytes can function in the service as bell ringers, boat boys and girls, and thurifers. Second, in church surveys young people in their 30s have shown to have a greater interest in church that orients toward “mystery” as symbolized through the “smells and bells.” And third, our church survey indicated that some folks here at Epiphany have a real affection for this type of service. We will see. We will also begin by having this service in the Chapel.
I know the 8:45 am start time seems a bit strange. It is. My thinking around this is built on the needs of Christian formation on Sunday morning, now scheduled from 10–10:45 am, and the desire for church not to run too much into Sunday afternoon. So, if football starts at 1 pm, we can have an 11 am service that gets everyone home in time for the game. Similarly, an 8:45 am service will get people home for a 10 am game time. No more missing church for the Seahawks!
Beyond all of our plans and reasons, church is where we worship God. God doesn’t need this, of course, but humanity does. Worship is orienting, transformative, and educational. I believe it calls us to our best selves and does so in a way that creates unity, union, peace, and love, both for God and our neighbor. So the more opportunities for us to worship regularly and for newcomers to enter into Epiphany, the worshipping community, the better we are achieving the purpose of our existence. That is the primary driver for service expansion.
So when thinking about the new services times, think about them as: a) honoring the Rite I service, by keeping it and moving it to 7:30 am; b) creating a second chance for Sunday worship through the accommodation of the 5 pm service; and c) splitting the 10:30 am service to break the 80% ceiling. Please know, as all things church, this is a work in progress. We will be trying things, particularly at the 8:45 am service. Be patient, share your thoughts with Kate, Tom, Diane, and me when I return, and more than anything else, give thanks to God for grounding us so mightily in worship.
Guest Speaker: Jana Riess
Speaker: Jana Riess
Date: May 4
Time: 7–8 pm
Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood, will be speaking on failing at Sabbath spirituality in a talk called “Epic Fail Christian.” The Cathedral Shop will be on hand selling books.
About Jana Riess
Since 2008, Jana Riess has been an editor in the publishing industry, primarily working in the areas of religion, history, popular culture, ethics, and biblical studies. From 1999 to 2008, she was the Religion Book Review Editor for Publishers Weekly, and continues to write freelance articles and reviews for PW as well as other publications.
She holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University. She speaks often to media about issues pertaining to religion in America, and has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Time, Newsweek, People, the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday, among other print publications, as well as “Voice of America,” the “Today” show, MSNBC, and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Tell Me More,” and “Talk of the Nation.”
She is the author, co-author, or editor of many books, including Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor; What Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as a Spiritual Guide; Mormonism for Dummies; and The Writer’s Market Guide to Getting Published. Her book The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . . Now with 68% More Humor! won first place in the non-fiction category in the Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards. She blogs for Religion News Service.
What’s Happening in Sunday School in May?
Our school year Sunday School program continues through May 24.
- Drop-off in the Chapel.
- Children will join families for Communion.
- Combined Choir rehearsal is from 11–11:30.
Please Note: May 31 is a big day: It’s Trinity Sunday, the Choristers and CITs sing, and it’s the last Sunday we will be worshipping in the Church! We encourage all children to go to church with their families Trinity Sunday. There will be no Sunday School program. Childcare will be available in the Nursery and in the EELP Huckleberry classroom for preschoolers.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
May 3, 2015
Fifth Sunday of Easter
1 John 4:7–21
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
May 2: Monthly Women’s Mini-Retreat
On Saturday morning, set aside some quiet time to be in the moment with women of Epiphany. Looking forward to our getting together again. Join us for a light continental breakfast and scripture discussion at 9-11 am in the Christie House Library.
May 3: Pilgrimage-in-Place – Compline at St. Mark’s
Join the Interior Pilgrimage in Community group for a quiet, meditative service of music and prayer at 9:30 pm at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Contact Diana Bender if you would like to attend. To find out how to track your pilgrimage miles for this event, visit epiphanyseattle.org/pilgrimage-in-place.
May 4: Author Jana Riess Comes to Epiphany
Jana Riess, the author of Flunking Sainthood, is coming to Seattle on a book tour and will be stopping at Epiphany to talk about being an “Epic Fail Christian.” Jana Riess is an editor in the publishing industry, formerly of Publishers Weekly, primarily working in the areas of religion, history, popular culture, ethics, and biblical studies. Join us at 7 pm in the Chapel. The Cathedral Shop will be on hand selling books. Read more here.
Events Down the Road
May 15–17: Living with Purpose – Epiphany’s Annual Women’s Retreat
You are invited to join other women of Epiphany for a weekend to talk about what it means to engage our senses along the spiritual journey-whether that means paying attention, getting lost, encountering others, saying no, feeling pain, being present, or pronouncing blessing. We hope you can join us. Registration is now open. Cost is $225 and scholarships are available. Click here for more info.
May 6: Walls Lecture at SPU – Experience and the Knowledge of God
Communities in the Wesleyan tradition have tended to follow John Wesley in valuing both the head and the heart, yet many believers sense a tension between them. This lecture given by Dr. Douglas Koskela, Associate Professor of Theology, will explore the place of spiritual perception in Wesley’s understanding of how one comes to embrace the Christian faith. Click here to for more information.
May 7: Racial Justice Lecture at SU – Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Matter for Everyone
Chris Crass writes and speaks widely on anti-racist organizing, feminism for men, strategies to build visionary movements, and creating healthy culture and leadership for progressive activism. Click here to for more information.
May 30: Baseball with the Bishop
Join Bishop Rickel and your fellow Episcopalians for a night of baseball and family fun at Cheney Stadium and to watch the Tacoma Rainiers beat the Round Rock Express. Enjoy a pregame buffet in the Backyard BBQ pavilion, located at the end of the first base concourse, at 4 pm. The game starts at 5:05 pm. Tickets are $25.50 and available here.