I am busy organizing and preparing for the fall start up of our program year at Small Church. Here are some of the things I am doing:
Revisioning our music ministry. We are going to begin to chant (again) the Psalms. I have found some sources that teach individuals and congregations how to do this using simple tones. ("Chanting the Psalms" by Cynthia Bourgeault, the book comes with a CD of her chanting). The idea is that we can move away from a monotone verbal recitation of the Psalms into a sung prayer. We are a small congregation but I am convinced we can sinng more and sing better if I just find the sources that will fit our ability. Generally speaking it isn't hymns from the 1982 Hymnal. On a good Sunday we have three people singing in our choir, many Sundays no one. Again this is because we are small and our parishioners travel for their jobs. I think we should, at the very least, have a cantor assigned for each Sunday who is prepared to assist the conregational singing. This Cantor could also add some variety to how we sing, like singing Canons in the round or having the Cantor sing one verse, the congregation another. The Cantor can also help me teach the congregation new hymns so we expand what we know.
I am also looking at having a group of parishioners participate in the "This I Believe" essay writing process. I first heard of this through grace-thing's blog. She posted her essay and it got me intrigued. You can learn more here. The biggest problem is wondering who to ask, who would actually come through with an essay. I'm working on that one. I'd like to publish them in our monthly newsletter.
As we prepare for our "Celebration Sunday" on Oct. 28 I have asked three parishioners to preach, one on each of the three Sunday's in Oct. leading up to Celebration Sunday. This is the day we celebrate all the ministries in the parish and turn in our pledge cards for the upcoming year. I've asked them to preach on "Why I come to small church." I'm giving them guidelines and help along the way.
The point of all of this is to encourage more involvement from the congregation in the worship life of the parish.
The problem is, I am a solo pastor. I get easily distracted by the varieties of daily parish life. It seems really challenging for me to follow through. I can initiate great ideas, I depend on others to follow through and that does not always happen. I think I have taken on three ambitious projects for the year. I hope I can get the initiative going well enough that those who are participating will then take over and help it get lived int. By this I mean, the members of the choir take over helping me find hymns and plan music for each Sunday. The people who've agreed to write and preach the sermons come up with something heart felt. And I get some folks to write a few essays.
We'll see how it goes.