Home > Uncategorized > When to process and when not to process…seems to be a question!

When to process and when not to process…seems to be a question!

When to process and when not to process…seems to be a question!  I have had conversations with several people over the last few months expressing concern regarding my decision to introduce NOT PROCESSING every Sunday at the 2nd Service. So, I thought I would use my blog to offer some reflections and instructions.  The practice was introduced during the summer months with the support of the Worship Committee, when there are fewer acolytes available and no choir, with the intention of gathering the Faith Community in a different manner rather than always processing in through the midst of the assembly. Once September arrived, I decided to alternate processing in and gathering in a different way, depending on the Sunday…processing in on the first Sunday the Choir resumed its ministry…Consecration Sunday…the Feast of St. Luke…All Saints Sunday…to mention a few.

Another compelling reason for introducing this adaptation was my desire to encourage the custom and practice of attending to silence when we gather for worship as a community. In our culture, silence is often perceived as forgetfulness or just waiting for the next spoken word. As Christians, we have a rich tradition of silence and from and within silence, we can encounter the holy…we can encounter God.

            Just as we use inclusive language material and more contemporary language in our prayer during the summer and then resume the use of the material from the Book of Common Prayer 1979 during the Program year although varying from Liturgical season to Liturgical season, I hope to continue using these various forms in the way that we gather during the various Liturgical seasons throughout the Church year. As we begin the Season of Lent, we will not process on the first 5 Sundays in Lent.  On Palm / Passion Sunday, we will process from the place of Blessing the Palms into the church together and on Easter Day and throughout the Great Fifty Days of Easter, we will process in and out during the 2nd Service.

As we gather during the Sundays in Lent, after the welcome and announcements, you will be invited into a time of marked silence as we prepare for worship. When the Presider stands, you are welcome to stand as we begin with the Opening Acclamation and Gathering Hymn.

To make sure we attend to concluding in an appropriate manner, the Verger will lead the Presider down the center aisle during the Concluding Hymn. This will be the indication for the Acolytes to extinguish the candles on the Altar Table. Members of the Choir may choose to be seated and remain in the chancel for the Postlude if they wish.

            I hope these reflections offer more insight regarding these adaptations in our Common Prayer. I am happy to share the resources that have influenced my decisions which come from other Episcopal colleagues engaged in the ongoing Liturgical renewal and adaptation of the church and its worship.  I invite your comments as well…

Every blessing,


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Maggie…Thanks for your reply…and your insights…we’ll return to processing on Palm / Passion Sunday…Every blessing!

  2. Maggie G.
    March 31, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Father Sparks,
    The clarification of when the processions will take place is helpful. I do look forward to the next procession — as I really do love that part of the service! It is one of my early memories of the Episcopal Church — as a little girl — hearing the choir come down the aisle, seeing the priest in his colorful vestments, and bowing as the cross was brought forward — I just KNEW that something purposeful was about to happen. (I am truly thankful that incense is no longer used! Achoo!) I find the entry procession centering and the exiting procession a celebration! BTW – when we don’t process we miss hearing your great voice signing down the aisle!

  3. Clayton Arndt
    March 12, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Doug, thanks for posting this clear explanation of the process and the planned schedule for gatherings and processions during the Sundays in Lent, Holy Week and Easter. This information is very helpful!

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