World Wide Worship
This summer while traveling, our family worshiped at Southminster United Church of Canada in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was not the largest congregation we’ve ever attended. In fact, we were 4 of the 34 in worship that morning.
My interest in this particular congregation was our common ties to Methodism and Wesleyan heritage. The United Church of Canada was formed by merging four Protestant denominations in 1925, one of them being the Methodist Church in Canada. In fact, the United Church of Canada remains a member of the World Methodist Council. Since I am serving on this council in the present quinquennium (and since there are no United Methodist Churches in Canada), I thought it would be helpful to worship there.
It was a nice experience but not so different from small United Methodist churches that I’ve attended. To be fair, I didn’t anticipate the Canadian worship to be drastically altered from what we do in Oklahoma.
A more varied experience was when Kyla and I stopped in to a Methodist Church on St. John’s Island back in 2015. They handed us percussion instruments along with the bulletins when we entered the sanctuary. We had a good time of island style gospel singing to open worship! Later in the service, the pastor asked if there were any other clergy in the congregation. I was one of three present that day and he called us all forward. I was invited to pray for people in the congregation as was happy to do so. Then I helped him serve Communion to the congregation which was one of my highlights of the trip (yes, but I am called to do this!).
This was not my first experience in praying for people of another congregation. I have done so in Methodist Churches in South Africa and Mexico. I can tell you that while our cultures may differ in a lot of ways, our needs in prayer are very similar.
Part of the South African experience involved a hike to see The Pinnacle Rock in Graskop, South Africa. While we were there, some of the local women found out that Bishop Hayes was an episcopal leader and an impromptu prayer service broke out! Bishop Hayes was glad to pray for them as requested and I took a quick photo. I think their trip to the mountain top included unexpected blessings!
All of this reminiscing is to remind us that we will be celebrating World Communion Sunday on October 1st. This is especially moving to me as I imagine Christians all around the globe gathering for this holy meal. Not all of us get along theologically but we are brothers and sisters nonetheless. Even though we may have differences, we have far more in common than we would consider at first glance. This Sunday recognizes our common heritage and faith. It is rather impressive to kneel at the altar rails while realizing that people are praying in the same way in different languages in a wide variety of settings all over the earth. Some of the prayers may be of a very different style but the basic content remains surprisingly similar.
I hope you’ll find a place to worship and receive this Sunday and remember your brothers and sisters around the world!
Check out Sam’s Blog here: http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com