In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Monday, August 13, 2007

ELCA Churchwide Assembly: Goodsoil Worship

OK - my "part one" thing never led into a part two. I'll tell some stories here about the week. I assume that you have read some of the major outcomes of the Assembly, so I won't go into those. Instead, I'll share some of my own experiences.

On Wednesday, Goodsoil held its worship service. I decided that I could be of assistance for the setting up of the service, so I spent the whole day in the hotel. I was not on the planning committee, and I didn't really know what the worship consisted of, but I was willing to help. The room where we were holding our worship was the same room where everyone would be eating breakfast, so we had to wait until breakfast was over to even get started setting up. This took longer than it should have, due to the fact that this unionized hotel would not let our volunteers move any chairs.

After removing the tables and vacuuming the floors, we were on our way to a pretty good set up. We set six sections of chairs in an elliptical shape the altar was in the center, flanked by a baptismal font and a lectern. The worship chair, Patrick, had a great vision. By the end, the room looked great. We had told the hotel to set 500 chairs for worship, but after the attendance at the Bradley Schmeling program, we decided to add 100 more chairs.

While we were setting up, the walls were being lined with the "Shower of Stoles" project. This display was of 1,100 stoles of GLBT clergy, many of whom have been removed due to their sexuality or gender identity. The display is rarely on display in its entirety, but it was for us. That took all day to set up while we were setting up the worship space.

Finally, the evening hour had arrived. Folks began filing in to claim their seats. Attendance was looking pretty brisk. We had reserved 40 seats for clergy who would process in. Patrick had lined up four people to carry banners while they circle around the baptismal font (which was empty). We then gave each of the clergy a pitcher or bowl of water. As they entered, they had to approach the font (without running into a banner carrier). They would then empty their water into the font. It was quite cool.

By this point, I noticed that we were running out of seats. There were about 10 more clergy than we had seats for. More people kept coming in as well. Soon, we were out of seats. We ran across the hall and began moving more chairs into the room. The hotels employees caught us and guarded the doors so that we couldn't carry them ourselves. They brought in another 50 chairs to the room and set them up in the corner. Yes, we had 650 people in worship with us. At the last Churchwide Assembly, Goodsoil had 350 people at worship. We did well. The other ironic thing was that our main opposition (Lutheran CORE) had a reception in the room right next to us. They only had 12 people. And we had 650. It's really petty, but I smiled!

Bradley Schmeling preached a lovely sermon. He has become the poster boy for gay clergy for this assembly. Bishop Margaret Payne presided over communion (a rare move for a bishop to take such an active role in our organization). While the service was happening, I was an usher and the sacristan. I walked around with a huge basket of bread to replenish the communion bread. However, they gave tiny pieces of bread, so they didn't need much replenishing.

When it was over, there was a reception. People also helped us volunteer to take stuff down (we had to turn the space into the breakfast room once again). Lutherans are so nice!


Blogger mark said...

sometimes being petty is okay.
i got a big smile from that, too.

9:55 PM  

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