Project Director: Rev. Dr. Andrew Keuer
To enrich support and care for the bereaved by developing liturgical practices that sustain the faith of grief-stricken worshipers while remaining vibrant and inclusive of the whole church community.
Summarize your grant project and how it will address a need in your worshiping community.
In this past year, six members of our congregation have lost their spouse, many of whom were key servants in this church. Many other members of our church have lost mothers, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, and children. Now that covid restrictions are lifted in Texas and congregants are reconnecting with Sunday morning worship, we intend to explore in this worship project the question of how our worship services might deeply and wisely minister to those living through the grief of bereavement?
What two questions might you ask about worship in the coming year that will generate theological reflection and shape your project?
What Sunday morning practices and theological themes already sustain and comfort the bereaved? Similarly, what theological concepts encourage the whole congregation to remain mindful of and present to the bereaved? How can such elements be reengaged in creative ways?
What Sunday morning worship elements can be designed or emphasized that will have a spill-over effect on pastoral care and mutual member care that transpires throughout the week to bereaved or grief-stricken members?
How will your project impact the worship life and habits of the congregation?
As a congregation who appreciates our own liturgical traditions, this project which focuses us on one specific aspect of Sunday morning worship can deepen our vocabulary and functional theology of worship that characterizes our liturgical patterns. Finding a deeper and more expansive language through which to speak together about this one issue, will have a "spill over" effect and impact our regular worship planning more generally. In addition to impacting our Worship Committee's planning, this vital worship project (for which LEC seeks a grant) is to also incorporate the assessment and inclusion of specific pastoral needs into the worship services, thereby integrating pastoral care and liturgical leadership.
What might be your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?
Our orientation to traditional patterns carries the risk of always finding a reason to say "well, how we did this in the past was..." While such preface statements often precede wonderful memories, they also stifle the discernment that seeks to actively engagement people in their current spiritual state. For this reason and to avoid a cul-de-sac in our discussions, we have included three guest speakers on topics of grief and worship to freshen our discussions and expand our conversation.
What do you hope to learn from the Grants Event and other grant recipients?
After teaching in theological academia for the past decade, our Pastor is particularly interested in considering new patterns and theological concepts in relation to the substance of worship, worship leadership and worship planning. Also, this project gives opportunity for our Worship Committee to glean some new ideas, that can then be shared with the congregation. As we share our starting questions and later our findings, we look forward hearing feedback and expect some future collaborations.