Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Services

Today was the first summer service of our church year. Who was the speaker? Yep, me. My husband and I joked that when we first started attending services, NEVER, EVER, would we lead a summer service. Now, eight years later, here I am leading one. Oh, how times change.

I was asked to present the sermon I had given at District Assembly. I have to admit that it was kind of fun getting the opportunity to choose all the songs and readings that I wanted. I really enjoyed planning the service and was much less nervous giving the sermon than I was at DA. I had the usual "constructive" criticism of speaking more slowly, but overall it was well received.

As I have mentioned on previous posts, I still have mixed thoughts about summer services. I appreciated the opportunity to speak and have heard some great lay-lead services, but it is so hit and miss. I wonder if any of you have guidelines or instructional tools you use for helping people lead services. I also am still uncomfortable with the tradition of UU minister's taking the whole summer "off". I really feel for the stability, coherence, and growth of the congregation, the minister should have a visible presence.

I would love to hear any of your thoughts on summer or lay-lead services.


ms. kitty said...

When I work with layleaders on summer services (or any layled service) I ask that they always make sure that there is "UU protein" as a theme: UU sources, principles, theology, social action causes, etc. Every speaker should speak to something UU, and if the speaker is not personally a UU, the worship leader should make the connection for the congregation.

This cuts down on the too-fluffy services that are mainly the bailiwick of one person.

Also, it's important that there be good training for worship leaders and a good template for the "boiler-plate" so that worship leaders have good, not too formal but not too informal, language for things like offering, joys/concerns, chalice lighting, etc.

One thing that often makes a layled service uncomfortable for visitors is a too-folksy, in-group kind of approach to worship.

Just a few thoughts.

Shelby Meyerhoff said...

Hi Plaid Shoes,

We have paid guest speakers over the summer (mostly ministers and seminarians). They follow our standard order of service, and choose the readings and hymns, as well as the sermon. One thing we started doing last year, and it worked well, was to have a group of lay worship associates participating in summer services with the guest preachers. For each service, we had one or two worship associates handling such pieces as the greeting, announcements, and offertory. This meant congregants always saw a "friendly face" in the pulpit, as well as someone new.

During the congregational year, we have some fully lay-led services. These are carefully prepared and rehearsed, with help from lay people on the worship committee who have themselves gone through the process of preparing and leading worship. Lay-led services are almost led by groups (rather than individuals), and the groups are selected by an application process. E-mail me if you'd like more info!

plaidshoes said...

Thank you, both, for the great suggestions. I think I would be much more likely to attend summer services if I knew that there had been an effort made to keep the sermon/experience meaningful to UU. I will be passing these on to our summer worship committee!