- Pipes and Pedals in Los Angeles, Hip Hop in New York
- Parliament of the World's Religions to open July 7 in Barcelona
- To Read: GIVE US GRACE: An Anthology of Anglican Prayers
Episcopalians share in hosting American Guild of Organists; national convention to continue through Friday in Los Angeles
[ENS, Los Angeles, July 6, 2004] The choirs of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills and St. James' Episcopal Church in Los Angeles will combine to lead a traditional Anglican service of Evensong starting at 7:40 this evening at L.A.'s cathedral-like First Congregational Church as part of the national convention of the American Guild of Organists, which continues through July 9.
Hundreds of Episcopal musicians from across the nation are among the more than 2,000 participants in the week-long convention of the Guild, which includes some 20,000 members in at least 340 chapters in the United States and abroad.
First Church's 20,000-pipe organ -- said to be the largest church organ in the world -- will enrich tonight's service set to feature William Walton's Chichester Service; Preces and Responses by James Buonemani, music director of L.A.'s St. James' Church; and choral works by both Dale Adelmann and Craig Phillips, who are music director and composer in residence, respectively, at All Saints, Beverly Hills. The Rev. Canon Mary June Nestler, dean of the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont, California, will officiate.
Simultaneously, the choir of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena and its organist-choirmaster, James Walker, will share in another worship service scheduled at L.A.'s First Baptist Church while a third liturgy, a Jewish Sabbath Service, is set for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
Other conference highlights will include recitals on the historic organs at both St. James and St. John's Episcopal churches in Los Angeles, and at the new Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. A first-ever Thursday-evening program will feature organists Cherry Rhodes, Robert Parris and Joseph Adam in concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, where the new organ's avant garde "pipes akimbo" design complements the venue's landmark undulating architecture by Frank Gehry.
Meanwhile, at the Episcopal Cathedral Center of St. Paul, a number of convention-goers will hear for the first time the just-installed 33-rank, 22-stop tracker organ built and voiced on site by Von Beckerath, a 400-year-old German company that is one of the world's premier organ builders. The organ is the first Von Beckerath instrument to be installed in a church sanctuary on the West Coast.
Further information on the American Guild of Organists may be obtained from its website, http://www.agohq.org/.
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'Go forth and tell it like it is': Roskam raps at Hip Hop Mass
By Matthew Davies
[ENS, New York, July 6, 2004] Picture this: an altar; an earth-shattering sound system; people of all ages "jamming to the groove"; and an Episcopal bishop rapping and feeling the beat. It’s the revolutionary liturgical outreach unfolding in the Bronx and it’s taking religion to the streets in the language of today -- Hip Hop!
"My sistas and brothas, all my homies and peeps, stay up -- keep your head up, holla back, and go forth and tell like it is." With this proclamation, Bishop Suffragan Cathy Roskam of New York sent people on their way at the Bronx's third Hip Hop Mass, held Friday, July 2 at Trinity Church of Morrisania.
The new civil rights
Honoring the founders of hip hop, the three-hour extravaganza attracted some big names in the genre, including the legendary Kurtis Blow, King of Rap; Cool Clyde, True Pioneer of Rap; Jeannine Otis, Rap Hall of Famer; and the human beatbox, rapper D. Cross.
The initiative behind the Hip Hop Mass came from Trinity Church's rector, the Rev. Tim Holder, after listening to young people in his neighborhood. "This is the first time anything like this has happened on the East Coast," he said. "Hip hop is the culture; it's the people. When it began it was all about speaking to the oppressor. Hip hop is the new civil rights."
Two dozen Episcopal, Lutheran, Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy and lay people have so far joined in the development and celebration of the Hip Hop Mass, including Bishop Don Taylor of New York, who offered a blessing at the first ever street mass on June 11.
Trinity Church has a regular congregation of 150 on a Sunday morning, consisting primarily of young people. "We needed to grow and open the doors," Holder said. "So, in addition to events such as the Hip Hop Mass, we started offering a breakfast after the 8 a.m. Eucharist as there are many kids around here who really appreciate that."
Roskam and Holder spoke about their hopes and goals for the Trinity Hip Hop Mass. "We want to sing the 'new song' of Jesus Christ in the vernacular and language of our younger generations," they said. "We hope that the Trinity Hip Hop will serve as a model for other parishes and communities throughout the city and the church."
The Rev. Martha Overall, rector of St. Ann's Episcopal Church, South Bronx, and a member of the Hip Hop Mass working group which has been meeting for three months, said, "Many children often attend services in the Bronx without their parents. They literally understand that there is something good for them there."
Education and positive messages
DJ Lightning Lance, who with his cousin Cool Clyde recorded the first "scratch" on vinyl, highlighted the message that hip hop should be delivering. "It's not about money or fancy cars or bling bling [jewelry]," he said. "It's about education and speaking for the oppressed."
Agreeing with Lightning Lance, Clyde said that hip hop is about positive messages. "It's a tool we use to escape violence and do positive things with," he said. "We want to tell this to the whole world." To cheers from the congregation, Clyde proposed that everyone gets together to create a hip hop museum in the Bronx to honor the roots of its culture.
Kurtis Blow, the first commercially successful rap artist and author of The History of Rap [http://www.rhino.com/Features/liners/72851lin.html], thanked the Lord that he was able to attend the Trinity Hip Hop Mass. "It's truly a blessing to see all this materialize," he said. "It's the first time I've ever seen anything like this -- hip hop religion in the Bronx." Blow, instrumental in raising up a generation of rappers, declared that he had been looking for a church home and said that, after witnessing Trinity Church, he'd be at the 8 a.m. service. "I'm shivering inside; I feel the Holy Spirit in this room," he said. "I'm going to make it a mission of mine to let everyone in the Bronx know that this is happening. This church is going to grow."
Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr., a Bronx Democrat, said hip hop is a way of life and is about putting emotions into rhythm, beat and dance. "Hip hop needs to be used in education," he said. "If you ask a student to write a song about civil rights they'll learn more than you could ever teach them. We need to attract our youth and young people back to the church."
During the sermon, Roskam spoke about what hip hop means to her and the message that it conveys. "I had always been aware of hip hop but I've learned so much about it from this neighborhood," she said. "The best of the hip hop tradition is love, pride and respect. Jesus taught us to love our enemies. We need to preach the whole word of Jesus, and that is to love everybody. Love wins in the end and that's where our victory is."
The Master Mix and Master Missal, written, adapted and arranged by members of Trinity's congregation and people drawn from the community, translated sections of the Book of Common Prayer into a more colloquial representation of hip hop culture. One of the leading lights of the translation effort is Lamont, a teenager from St. Paul's Church in the Bronx, who wrote the Pontifical Hip Hop Blessing to conclude the mass. Lamont said the mass is a great way to meet new people and show off the best of hip hop culture in the Bronx.
Other highlights included versions of the 23rd Psalm, adapted by Ryan Kearse, and the confession, adapted by Tom Mercer.
The 23rd Psalm
The Lord is all that, I need
He allows me to chill.
He keeps me from being heated
And allows me to breathe easy.
He guides my life so that
I can represent and give
Shouts out in his Name.
And even though I walk through
The Hood of death,
I don't back down
For you have my back.
The fact that you have me covered
Allows me to chill.
He provides me with back-up
In front of my player-haters
And I know that I am a baler
And life will be phat
I fall back in the Lord's crib
For the rest of my life
Confession and Absolution
We confess we have sinned against You and our Neighbor.
We have not done right by You.
We have not done right
by other people.
We are sorry.
We want to change.
Remember Jesus, Your Son.
Have mercy and forgive us.
From now on may we try to do what you want,
To the glory of Your Name. Amen.
God has forgiven you.
It's a done deal!
The Bronx outreach follows other hip hop ministries in Episcopal congregations, notably at St. Stephen's, Hollywood, California, among others. Friday hip hop masses run 5-8 p.m. until July 23 at East 166th St and Trinity, South Bronx.
--Matthew Davies is staff writer of Episcopal News service
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Parliament of the World's Religions set to open July 7 in Barcelona
[ENS, New York, July 6, 2004] With an opening plenary featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi honored for her work as an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions is set to open at 5pm July 7 in Barcelona. A commitment to address the plight of refugees is among priorities for the opening session.
Additional principal speakers throughout the seven-day Parliament program will include Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, popularly known as Amma, the Indian-born spiritual leader who has worked for the past 30 years to establish extensive charitable institutions. London-based author Karen Armstrong, whose books include "A History of God," "Islam," and "Buddha," will also speak, as will theologian Hans Kung, president of the Foundation for a Global Ethic, and Rabbi Michael Learner, founder of TIKKUN magazine.
Among Episcopalians scheduled to participate in the Parliament gathering are Bishop Christopher Epting, the Presiding Bishop's deputy officer for ecumenical and interfaith relations; Sonia Omulepu, coordinator for the Episcopal Church's Interfaith Education Initiative; and Richard Parkins, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries. Episcopal deacon Gwynne Guibord, officer for ecumenical and interfaith concerns in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and Episcopal lay leader Kay Lindahl, director of the Listening Center in Laguna Niguel, California, are among Episcopalians leading workshops.
Further information is posted on the Chicago-based Parliament's Web site, http://www.cpwr.org/. (Note from ENS: Episcopalians participating in the Parliament meetings are invited to e-mail their news and reflections to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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To Read (a regular Tuesday Daybook feature)
GIVE US GRACE: An Anthology of Anglican Prayers, compiled by Christopher L. Webber, Morehouse Publishing, 528 pp., $29.95. Reviewed by Martha K. Baker for the just-printed July/August 2004 issue of Episcopal Life, national newspaper of the Episcopal Church.
Anglicans have a history of writing well -- consider how many of the Founding Fathers (and their mothers) were Anglican; then look at the words with which they established a nation. But Anglicans also have a tradition of praying well -- look at how often the Book of Common Prayer is used as a resource for ceremonies in books and movies. The Rev. Christopher L. Webber has compiled some of the best and most representative words in "Give Us Grace."
Webber, who also wrote "Celebrating the Saints," organizes the prayers chronologically, beginning with Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) and ending with Janet Morley and Stephen Reynolds (both born in 1951). Between Cranmer and Reynolds rise the prayers of known writers (at least to English majors) like Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Vaughan and Samuel Johnson ("Grant, O Lord, that I may not lavish away the life which Thou has given me in useless trifles...").
Prayers by lesser-known Anglicans also delight and inspire, for example, Miles Lowell Yates' "For All Who Do Good in the World." Webber includes occasional prayers, such as on Philadelphia's Yellow Fever Epidemic, and he includes topical prayers, such as "A Prayer for Our Enemies," which asks the English to pray for Americans in 1776. He adds biographical headnotes; knowing that Robert E. Lee's wife, Mary Anne (1807-1873), wrote despite crippling arthritis adds a dimension to the prayers found in her diary.
At the end, Webber offers contemporary prayers from within the Anglican Communion, including the nations of Native Americans. Cross References at the end of a set of prayers to similar ones throughout the book will prove handy.
In this useful and moving anthology, old prayers can sound modern while new ones bow to the past. They remind us that, from the beginning, the word was made prayer.
Next Daybook: Weekend on Wednesday: a look ahead to the Episcopal Church this coming Sunday.