Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Order of Worship?

I have a few pictures below, but Ella is the better photographer and I promise I will post a run of her pictures soon.

We went to the Christian Reformed Church, Kabala this past Sunday.  As one of my children noted, one difference here is that church can sometimes be longer in Sierra Leone than at home - OK, it's WAY longer (church was slated to begin at 10 AM and didn't finish until well after 2:00 PM, refreshments included).  But the differences don't end there because we are also not used to:
  • worship services being held in an open-air building beside a dusty road
  • church services in Krio
  • worshippers clapping and dancing during every song
  • 'bidding' prayer time where everyone is encouraged to simultaneously speak out loud their confession or praise or thanksgiving (and they do willingly, the result being a rousing cacauphony of the prayers of the people)
But despite these differences, there is so much that is familiar; so much that is similar to worship in churches - particularly CRC churches - in North America.  To begin, if you attend a CRC in North America, take a look at the 'Order of Service' below from our worhsip service this past Sunday.  If it looks familiar, I'm not surprised.  It stems from a hybrid of John Calvin's Genevan template and the input of CRC missionary Paul Kortenhoven (somewhat to Paul's chagrin, I might add).
The 'Order of Service', Sunday 15th January, 2012, CRC Kabala.  Missing on the order of worship was 'Praise and Worship', which was #6a ...
An interesting feature of the worship services is the 'song contributions' by various groups.  Usually members from within the church (and sometimes guests) contribute to the worship service through singing.  Below is one such 'guest' group, contributing to the worship service through song.  It is not uncommon for these groups to have uniform dress, to process to the front and to distribute an offering plate for their own ministry or the ministry of the church (so you can sometimes have upwards of 6 or 7 offerings).

The Daindenbeh school group prepares to process to the front of the church for their contribution to the worship service.
At the service on Sunday there was the dedication of the child of the school's principal, J.T. Koroma.  This brings to the forefront another area that the CRC in Sierra Leone and the CRC in North America have in common:  What to do with infant baptism in emerging congregations?  (The CRC in NA had something to say about this at our 2011 synod regarding infant baptisms and dedications, especially relevant in church plants in North America - if you're really keen, see Acts of Synod 2011, pp. 822, 829. 831-32 available here: http://www.crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/resources/2011_acts.pdf

Parents respond to questions at the dedication of their infant son.
I found it very interesting to witness this and discuss dedication and infant baptism with various pastors and leaders in the church this past week. In the missionary context, what is most prudent? I have been asked to prepare a discussion paper for staff and church leaders on the subject of infant baptism and an examination of relevant scriptural texts and themes. I look forward to the discussion and trust God will lead it.
The prayer of the congregation, with hands outstretched towards the parents and child in blessing.

1 comment:

  1. It has been a pleasure following your adventures in Sierra Leonne and seeing the similarities and differences between the Church over there and the CRC here in Canada. On behalf of the GO team of Victoria CRC we wish you all the best in your work and pray for the Lord's provision of safety, enjoyment and and guidance as you continue God's work in Sierra Leonne. We look forward to following your experiences over the next few months.