Come sing, ring with our choirs!
Do you enjoy singing? Have you wondered what it's like to play in a handbell choir? If you answered "yes" to either question, our church has a place for you.
Under the direction of Quint Lerch, the adult Sanctuary Choir graces many of our Sunday morning worship services. The singers warm up 30 minutes before services begin and their regular practices are at 7:45 p.m. Thursdays. The church also has a Youth Choir (fourth grade-teens), a Children's Choir (K-third grade) and a Nursery Choir. Their practices are before Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.
Laura Seidelmann directs the Majestic Ringers handbell choir for adults, and Elizabeth Billings heads our Yingers, the youth bell choir. Call the church at (856) 845-0139 for information.
Notes from the Organ Bench
by Quint Lerch
Ash Wednesday and the mystical worship of Taize
For the last several years, we have begun our season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with a meager meal in Fellowship Hall. It is one of my favorite evenings of the church year. But once dinner is over, Fellowship Hall is transformed into a mystical place with the lights turned off and a single solitary candle lit in front of each participant.
We sit in silence. It is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. We meditate and pray and listen to scripture. We sing short songs over and over so that the words and music wash over us like waves at the seashore. They cleanse us from the noise of the outside world. They bring us closer together and help us center our hearts and minds on God’s presence among us.
Taize worship was begun more than 75 years ago by Brother Roger at a monastic community in Taize, France. His mission was to bring reconciliation to divided peoples and Christians -- particularly Catholics and Protestants. His goal was to emphasize service and ecumenicalism. Surprisingly, Taize also attracted young people in their 20s and 30s; those who often are turned off by anything that resembles organized religion. The key to this desire to be part of a worshipping community is thought to be in its simplicity -- so opposite society’s desire to chase after things or excess. That nonstop chase does not allow us to just be together with other people in a setting that is open, welcoming and affirming.
A key component to this worship style is silence. We are bombarded by noise and the constant attention to personal devices. So, on a practical level, setting aside the noise and the demands on our attention allows the spiritual side of our personal lives to be awakened and transported to the mystical and spiritual side of our being that we so often ignore. Pope John II said, “One passes through Taize as one passes close to a spring of water.” He went on to say that at Taize, “The traveler stops, quenches their thirst, and continues on their way.” The monastic brothers who live at Taize want you to visit but not stay. What they want is “for you to, in prayer and silence, drink the living water promised by Christ, to know His joy, to discern His presence, to respond to His call, then to set out again to witness to His love and to serve your brothers and sisters in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Well said, and I hope that you can join us Feb. 14 and share in that amazing experience.
Spaghetti dinner thanks
For all those who attended our annual spaghetti dinner in November, please accept our sincere thanks for your support. We raised about $1,000 to fund the Music Department for the coming season. Thanks, too, go to all the Sanctuary and Bell Choir members, and our youth for their organization, set-up, dessert-baking help and for being servers and helping in the kitchen. But our biggest thanks go to our chef, Brad Gilmore, and his wife, Kim. Without them, our dinner would not be possible. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.