Starting Sunday September 11, we’re going to try holding the 9.15 service in the upstairs Chapel of the New Jerusalem. This will be an experiment, especially in terms of practical things like access and acoustics. But we hope that smaller and open space will give us greater flexibility to build a sense of friendship and mutual care, to buoy congregational singing, and to try out different seating arrangements to support these. It also helps our sacristan, musicians and others with what is otherwise a very tight “turnaround” between the two services.
Over forty people turned out to a special meeting in the Chapter Room on August 21, to talk about the return of the 9.15 service. That’s a good indication of the desire that exists in the parish to see its return, now that COVID constraints permit.
Participants discussed the core values they want this service to embody, and what some ways might be to live those values out in weekly worship. Everyone agreed that in addition to being prayerful and sacramental, we want this service to emphasize hospitality, welcoming, community, participation, accessibility, simplicity and informality. There was a recognition that this service should celebrate and nurture “parish” life, compared to the somewhat more formal and traditional style of a “cathedral” service at 11.00. Attendees also expressed a strong desire for greater congregational participation in all aspects of the liturgy -- especially music, with the support of the Parish Choir, whose regular presence has been missed recently.
One concern raised had to do with whether the ventilation in the CNJ is adequate, given continuing concerns about COVID. Because our young choristers rehearsed in the CNJ throughout COVID, we were required to address issues of ventilation. We are assured that there is a 100% air exchange in the CNJ every 20 minutes.
The liturgy team is now working out details and recruiting volunteers. There will be regular opportunities through the fall to gather feedback and make adjustments during this trial period.
Please note that on two successive Sundays this fall, there will be a combined service at 10.30. October 9, as usual, we will worship together for Harvest Thanksgiving, and to accommodate the predictable traffic disruptions from the Victoria Marathon. The following week, October 16, we will gather as a community for the dean’s last Sunday with us before retirement.