Approximately forty enthusiastic clergy, musicians and laypersons gathered on Monday morning to hear the managing senior editor of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, speak on Claiming Our Worship Life: Prayers of the Church Past and Present. Galli was formerly a Presbyterian pastor, and has been worshiping in the Anglican tradition for nearly 20 years. He learned that the Book of Common Prayer gave him words to pray that were based in the collected wisdom of the church. He found that the liturgical prayers lift the burden of individualism, and that the liturgy is radically communitarian. He spoke about worship as an alternative world where our allegiance is to God, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and to the blessing of this kingdom. God is Trinity in relationship, the core of this reality is a community. Liturgy is a spiritual discipline, and first and foremost a community event. He offered three ways to shift our minds to think of worship as a community event: (1) As a ceremony to honor another, (2) As a celebration of something beyond us, (3) As a dramatic performance to an audience rather than a personal expression.
After a few questions and a short break, a panel was convened by Kim Warner of Texas Presbyterian Foundation and chair of the Board of Directors of the Church Music Institute. The panel included Rev. Robert Odom (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Dallas), Rev. Dr. John McCoy (Retired Presbyterian Pastor, Grace Presbytery), Rev. Dr. Blair Monie (Preston Hollow Presbyterian, Dallas), Rev. Anne Clifton (First Presbyterian, Garland), Brian Bentley (Cathedral Guadalupe), Dr. Sheryl Sebo (Arapaho United Methodist Church; President, Dallas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists). Questions covered topics of how decisions are made for worship, issues of individualism/community/tribalism in worship, how worship can help us transcend individual perspectives and situations, how the lections for the day can provide a discipline for deepening the focus for worship planning.
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