Saturday, January 3, 2009
Developing "The Plan"
And now, with the new year, I plan on being much more regular in my postings, and have motivation to do so as I now embark on the chronicle of liturgical renewal at Bethany I have been promising. As I have mentioned, my first year at Bethany was consumed with the development of a "Three-Year Plan" for nurturing the liturgy. The need for education, development, and consistency in this area was identified by the congregation in 1999, and was integral to broadening the position of "music director" to that of "Cantor" as I was brought on board. As the new "Cantor", I had to then work through the details of what all this meant. By bringing everybody on board, the thinking went, we would have smooth sailing as we inaugurated changes and enhancements to Bethany's worship customs and practices. The final document that came out of this was called, "Nurturing Lutheran Worship at Bethany: the Three-Year Plan". It was mailed out to every congregation member, accompanied by a nice introductory letter from Pastor Rossow. It was not called "The Plan" at the time, but for the sake of brevity I'll now start referring it to such in this series. "The Plan" itself was formulated via a series of open questions in worship that were brought to the worship committee and to the program staff. Members of both groups added their own questions to the list, and over the first five months of my cantorate over a dozen meetings were held in which these two groups shared their responses to the questions and systematized their areas of agreement into a vision of where we wanted to go as a congregation. I then assessed where Bethany was and where we wanted to go, and marked out a path to getting there over three years. Once a path was laid out, a new series of meetings began so that we could review and revise the plan and come to agreement on exactly what we were going to do. Once there was agreement between the program staff and the worship committee, a final draft was sent to the Ministry Council, which then sent the plan back for further revisions. Finally, after almost a full year of discussions, The Plan was approved, with the unanimous support of the worship committee and the program staff, and by a 9-1 vote of the Ministry Council. The plan had 12 stages, each guiding a 3-month focus on different aspects of the liturgy. Most but not all of these stages also introduced either a change or an addition to Bethany's customs. The first stage of The Plan was entitled "The Drama of the Liturgy" and, among other things, explained the Entrance Rite to the congregation. No real changes were introduced, but more consistent customs were agreed upon, explained, and established. But before we look at each of the 12 stages, we should take time to look at the Introduction to the Plan and the Worship Statement that was introduced to the congregation as The Plan began in December, 2000. So, if you want to know how we explained the need for The Plan to the congregation in the first place......head on to the next post!