I am so excited about the new church year! We’re going to introduce some new things, bring back some beloved old things, like Circle Suppers, and change around some regular things.

Our music director, Rebecca Maze, and I have worked this summer on our worship service. The order and flow will be different, so I wanted to share that with you ahead of time, and tell you a little bit about the “why” behind the decisions.

Our new Order of Service:

——Embrace Joy——
Greeting Minister
Opening Hymn
——Enrich Connections——
Welcome Worship Leader
Call to Worship, Responsive Reading Minister
Hymn for Gathering
Lighting of the Flaming Chalice Worship Leader
Special Music/Anthem if scheduled
Joys and Sorrows (Candles first, then Cards)
Sung Response
——Encourage Growth——
RE Announcement
Big Idea/Story
Separate Journeys
Reading Minister
Sermon Minister
——Empower Dreams——
Offering Worship Leader
Offertory Music
Final Hymn
Benediction Minister

As you can see, the service is ordered around the new mission that Live Oak members voted to adopt last May: Embrace joy, enrich connections, encourage growth, and empower dreams.

You’ll notice that one of the major changes is to have Joys and Sorrows during the service while the children and youth are still present, and the offering at the end. Along with feeling that this gave a better “flow” to the service, I had to think about how we come together, all ages, as a community. I’ve long since felt that it was important to have our children see us gather the collection … but when I had to choose between the children/youth being present for Joys and Sorrows versus the offertory, well, the decision was easy. One of the beautiful things about Live Oak is that we are an intentionally multigenerational community. This time where we share the most vulnerable and most exciting milestones in our personal lives has the potential to strengthen our community feeling.

Once that “adaptive” change was made, then we had to think through the “technical” change. Namely – how do we get the joys and concerns cards, if the offertory is at the end?

You’ll now have two times to bring forward your written joys/concerns:

  • There will be a basket on the chancel. You can drop your card off there, before the service begins.
  • During the time of lighting candles for silent joys/concerns, you can also bring your card forward and place it in the basket. At the end of the candle lighting period, I’ll get those, and then read them from the pulpit. Be sure to check the box if you want me to share it out loud!

One bit of feedback I received last year was from members who wanted a little time after the sermon to “sit with” the topic. The sermon will now be followed by a short musical interlude, and then the prayer/meditation.

While Rebecca and I were in the process of refining the service, Carolyn Dower came to us with a request. She has been providing a sign language accompaniment to a final song for years … and she’s ready for a break. Thank you for teaching us about the fun and beauty of sign language, Carolyn!

What do I expect with these changes? Well, I expect it will be a little awkward for everyone, including me, the first few weeks! I have hope that the changes will “refresh” the worship experience for all of us. And, as always, I hope that the service will be that – an experience, something that we participate in together, as a community.