In a marvelous metaphor for Episcopal diversity, yesterday’s Morning of Prayer offered worshippers pathways to reconciliation through music, poetry, movement, visual art, and more music.
The four-hour service began and ended with traditional liturgy. Midway came special programs to nourish body, mind, and spirit.
“Go in peace,” Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said, sending worshipers from Hall B into some 10 sites around the sprawling Convention Center and outdoors.
As volunteer healers and confessors lined up around the perimeter of Hall B, waiting to serve those who remained inside, Mildred Cox, Susan Buckley, and Penny Wood from Springfield, Ill., made a beeline for Auditorium 1.
There, priest and poet Malcolm Boyd and Bishop Chet Talton of Los Angeles recreated a 1960s coffeehouse ministry for about 160 people. Cellist James Waldo, 18, provided sensitive and beautiful music from Bach Partitas to Waldo’s own accompaniment to Boyd’s prayers in the style of his bestselling book, “Are You Running with Me, Jesus?” For Gail and Tom Fennimore of North Carolina, “It was a powerful mix of music, prayers about race.”
Chip Mueller, a deputy from Southern Virginia, headed straight to “Water and Stones,” led by lay and ordained women. “My experience has been that in terms of reconciliation, I have found that is part of the nature of a community of women.” Prayer, meditation, music, and shared stories filled the time. “I would call it a grace-filled workshop,” Mueller said afterwards.
In Auditorium 3, scholar-composer-performer Horace Boyer, editor of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” brought to several hundred people “A Balm in Gilead – Songs of Healing.” He laced a fast-paced sequence of congregational hymn-singing with history and Bible commentary.
More singing upstairs advanced the ongoing dialogue between Moravians and Episcopalians. Otto Dreydoppel, a pastor and scholar of Moravian studies in Bethlehem, Pa., described this Singstunde as a “sermon in song that’s developed in the course of singing these hymns.”
In the Meditation Chapel “Walking the Way of the Cross” by Thomas Faulkner drew a steady stream of people.
Some worshipers never left Hall B, preferring to listen to the pristine harmonies of the Gregorian Singers.
Meanwhile, under the great blue sky, worshipers quietly traced a subtle labyrinth cut into the lush lawn of a park outside the Convention Center. Created to grow daily in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers, Lisa Gidlow Moriarty’s design impressed several young people who walked its concentric lanes as a distinctive sacred path.