ELCA Worship News July 2015

“When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do not worship alone,
we worship ‘with all the company of heaven.’”
– Marianne H. Micks

I remember a story that former Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson once told. He said that after his first wife died he felt as if he couldn’t worship, but he forced himself into the assembly week-in-and-week-out. He said there were times when he couldn’t sing, recite the creeds of the church, join in the prayers of the assembly, or add his voice to the living saints, but he kept going.

He kept going and said that, when he couldn’t sing, the assembly sang for him. When he couldn’t pray, the assembly prayed for him. When he couldn’t recite the creeds of the church, the assembly did on his behalf. When he could not add his voice, the assembly was there.

The assembly was there, gathered around word proclaimed and word sung, a bath of grace to splash in and a table of mercy to dine at, sending and serving; all gathering around the centrality of faith in Jesus. When we worship, we do so, together, and never alone. We get to worship with the saints gathered and “the company of heaven.”

I have heard many tell me over the years that they don’t get anything out of worship and so they just don’t go. For them and for you who may have felt that way a time or two, I encourage you to remember it isn’t about what we receive as a consumer or a deliverer of product goods. When we gather for worship, we are not gathering for our own sole purposes or spiritual egos. When we gather for worship, we “get” to gather as the body of Christ and we “get” to do this together. For me, it is a reminder that – in a world that can often feel really big, scary and individualistic – in the church’s worshiping community I am reminded that I don’t journey alone and I don’t lift my living voice as a solo act for God.

I am reminded of this reality this week, as I gather with more than 800 sisters and brothers from around the ELCA, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and other ecumenical guests and participants here in Atlanta for the Worship Jubilee event. We are gathering each day, centered in worship and learning what it means to have God call us to be living voices in this cosmos.

I am thankful to be a partner in this great calling with you and look forward to living out the many ways God calls us to be living voices as his worshiping body.

God’s blessings,

Pastor Kevin Strickland
Director, Worship

called to be a living voice worship jubileeThe Church’s Journey in Art and Song
Peachtree United Methodist Church
Atlanta, Ga.
Wed., July 22 at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) Through the gift of technology, people across the country will be able to share in this event through a live-stream video feed. A downloadable PDF file of the program will also be available through the website link.

If you are in the Atlanta area, please come join us. Or, “virtually” join us by going to the Living Voice website and click on the link to the video feed. The video feed will go live 15 minutes prior to the start of the program.

wnA new resource for preparing worship texts in your community “An assisting minister invites the assembly into prayer in these or similar words.”
“The presiding minister may address the assembly in these or similar words.”

Have you noticed that this phrase – in these or similar words – appears regularly within the liturgies presented in Evangelical Lutheran Worship? What is the spirit and intention behind these words? And, if desired, where will these “similar words” come from?

In January 2013, the ELCA worship staff and Augsburg Fortress gathered a diverse group of liturgists, theologians and musicians to consider the question of what “these similar words” might look like. What started as a room full of ideas on a four-day retreat can be found in this new publication.


“In These or Similar Words: Crafting Language for Worship” will guide individuals and groups who wish to prepare new worship texts for their communities.

This resource includes:

  • Some discussion of foundational principles for evaluating sources of language and images used in such texts;
  • Individual and group exercises to identify and describe your local worshiping community’s makeup, values and sensibilities;
  • Brief commentaries about “what’s going on” in specific liturgical texts within the services of Holy Communion and Holy Baptism in Evangelical Lutheran Worship;
  • Examples of locally crafted language for worship, for illustration and inspiration; and
  • Reproducible pages with practical tips and helps for the actual process of writing new texts.

To view a sample and to order, visit the Augsburg Fortress web store.

 Augsburg Fortress

A new look at worship planningssThe online worship planner, sundaysandseasons.com, has served as a rich and reliable resource for worship planning since 2005. On July 27, 2015, the online planning tool will be released with some exciting changes while retaining its trusted features and content, featuring the breadth of the ELCA’s worship resources.

Subscribers will experience a fresh, new look throughout the site, along with the ability to browse lectionary content more easily right from the home page. Deluxe subscribers will have the option for two new content modules:

  • Preaching, featuring content from Sundays and Seasons: Preaching
  • Worship Videos, featuring worship videos and loops by The Work of the People.

Also, Subscribers to both sundaysandseasons.com Deluxe and Prelude Music Planner now have shared integration between both planning tools.

The Preaching module is an all-new area available as an add-on for Deluxe subscribers and includes all content from the new Sundays and Seasons: Preaching resource, along with content from the respected New Proclamation series. Also included are selected Day Resources written by Gail Ramshaw for easy use in combination with the other Preaching content.

Clip art that subscribers are used to using will now be accessed through the new Visuals module, including – for the first time – art from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Graphics CD-ROM. Worship Videos, designed around the lectionary by The Work of the People, will be available as an add-on for Deluxe subscribers. The Work of the People produces visual prayers, visual poems and visual benedictions – interpretive and contemplative pieces – as well as looped visual imagery for worship that are useful in practical ways and in various settings.

Prelude Music Planner is an online tool that makes planning music for worship easy and efficient, leaving you or your church musicians more time for making music. With new, enhanced integration between both planning tools, sundaysandseasons.com, Deluxe subscribers and Prelude subscribers can now edit worship plans within each program.

As it has from the beginning, the Sunday and Seasons family of resources continues to support week-by-week planning for Lutherans with content and ideas shaped by the Revised Common Lectionary, the church year, and the assembly gathered around word and sacrament.

Augsburg Fortress is committed to creating innovative, secure online resources dedicated to helping subscribers use sundaysandseasons.com effectively. To learn more about Sundays and Seasons online worship planner, visit sundaysandseasons.com. To learn more about Prelude Music Planner, visit preludemusicplanner.org.

 Events and Resources

Tune Up: Worship Band Gathering
Westbury United Methodist Church
Houston, Texas
August 2015


The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod Worship Excellence Team invites people to join them for the upcoming “Tune Up: Worship Band Gathering” in Houston. For those who have never experienced this event, it is an opportunity for contemporary worship musicians to learn and grow with specific learning tracks for worship leaders, vocalists, drummers and percussionists, guitarists (all varieties), keyboardists and sound and video techs. New this year is a panel discussion with musicians and pastors about the challenges facing churches today.There will also be sessions available on Multicultural Worship, Unwelcoming Worship, Creating Worship Planning and Loops & Multi-tracks. Worship bands, praise teams, directors of music and pastors will all take away techniques and strategies that they immediately can implement.

The cost is just $25 per person with a maximum per church of $150 which includes lunch. To learn more or to register, visit http://tuneupgathering.org.

St. Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario – Aug. 19-22
Union Seminary, New York City – Sept. 16
Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore – Nov. 20
The Bishop’s Ranch, Sonoma County – Jan. 17, 2016Music that Makes Community Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that connects a worldwide network of practitioners and leaders who share a practice of paperless song leading. They partner with hosts to produce conferences and workshops to teach, to practice and to create resources for making connections and building a repertoire of songs for paperless song leading.

These conferences are perfect for anyone – pastors, lay leaders, choir directors, Sunday school teachers, organists and more – who seeks to find ways of engaging an assembly in song in a truly authentic way. No previous experience necessary!

Hear what Lutherans are saying about Music that Makes Community:

Thanks for your encouragement to do this. I know this is going to have an impact on Morning Prayer. Even the keyboardists among us, including myself, came to see the value in leading voice-to-voice, and face-to-face. All of us came away transformed by the power of this form of music-making. – Lorraine S. Brugh

Theoretically, I’ve always known that music creates community, but this was an experience of that reality. Singing together without paper not only creates community, it empowers and transforms it. I really believe singing in this way changes the ways that we are church together. – Bradley Schmeling

To learn more about upcoming events and see the growing number of resources on our newly redesigned site, go to www.musicthatmakescommunity.org.

Summer Reading List

What’s on your shelf to read this summer?

Here is a sampling found on the desks of the Worship staff:

  • Shaping the Prayers of the People: the art of intercession – Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher, ©2014 Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Co.
  • Treasures Old and New: Images in the Lectionary – Gail Ramshaw, ©2014, Fortress Press
  • New Songs of Celebration Render: Congregational Song in the Twenty-First Century – compiled and edited by C. Michael Hawn, ©2013 GIA Publications
  • Journey into the Heart of God: Living the Liturgical Year – Philip H. Pfatteicher, ©2013 Oxford University Press
  • Preaching at the Crossroads: How the World – and our Preaching – is Changing – David J. Lose, ©2013 Fortress Press
  • Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer – Jennie Isbell & J. Brent Bill, ©2015 Green Press Initiative
  • Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts – Harold M. Best, ©2003 InterVarsity Press
  • Gathering at God’s Table: The Meaning of Mission in the Feast of Faith – Katherine Jefferts Schori, ©2012 Skylights Path Publishing
  • Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian – Thomas G. Long, ©2004 Jossey-Bass
  • Worship for the Whole People of God: Vital Worship for the 21st Century – Ruth C. Duck, ©2013 Westminster John Knox Press