Is there future in tradition?

Reflections

Reflecting on his childhood, The Rev’d Stewart Perry asks ‘Is there future in tradition?’: “Each of us longs for traditional worship to be vitally embedded in our church, but sometimes wonder how a generation who have grown up without prayer and hymn books can be attracted and engaged to the type of worship we all love and value.”

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I remember when Dad was accepted into theological college when I was eight years old, and the parish we were leaving presented me with my very own prayer book with messages of encouragement written on the inside of what I thought was a very cool black cover, which differentiated it from the ‘boring, ordinary’ green ones that everyone else got on their way into church. I loved that prayer book so much that I wore it out and needed to buy a new one well before the release of our current prayer book, A Prayer Book for Australia.

Church music also became a deep love of mine, which began with singing in church choirs and later taking a radical directional change when I joined a Christian band in my early 20s. It was in this time of my life that I began exploring different forms of worship and ‘fresh expressions of church’. I was somewhat co-opted to the Diocesan Liturgy Commission as a token young person with a strong opinion that if we didn’t change we would slowly fade away.

It was in my formation at theological college that I fell back in love with the prayer book and  a more traditional or sacred style of worship. I still love informal or contemporary worship, and I’ve been privileged to lead churches where we have had both traditional and informal expressions of worship with only the occasional ‘them and us’ turf war to resolve.

Since coming to Robina, I have been in regular conversation with our church organist and one of our choir members. We meet for Friday Morning Prayer and often ponder what will traditional or sacred worship look like in the years to come. Each of us longs for traditional worship to be vitally embedded in our church, but sometimes wonder how a generation who have grown up without prayer and hymn books can be attracted and engaged to the type of worship we all love and value.

We have been privileged to be able to invite The Rev’d John Bell, an inspiring hymn writer, liturgist and author from the Iona Community and Wild Goose Resource Group to come and help us explore this question. On Saturday 18 May, John will be the keynote speaker for a one-day conversation: ‘Is there a future in tradition?’ At this conference, John will lead the following two sessions:

Session 1: The Key Thing About Tradition is…

In this session we attend to what are the essential features of our church traditions, as distinct from accretions, which may even yet be ‘masquerading’ as tradition.

Session 2: These things must die….

The key dynamic of the resurrection is that through Christ, all can be changed and made new. This means that some things will have to be allowed or even encouraged to die, so that God can do a new thing. What might these be?

In both sessions, John Bell will be drawing on good practice, which he has witnessed in churches throughout the world.

I hope you will join us in this difficult, but important conversation, as we allow John to inspire us to explore how we might shape, reshape and hold onto the sacredness and tradition we find within the church.

Please book online. Registration cost is $20 (which includes morning and afternoon tea). ‘Is there a future in tradition?’ one-day conference with The Rev’d John Bell. Saturday 18 May, 9am to 2pm at 186 Robina Town Centre Dr, Robina. Hosted by the Parish of Robina in collaboration with PMC. For more information, please email the Parish of Robina.

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