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Larry Duggins

During each of the two National Gatherings, we have included a Taizé Worship Service. Our decision to include Taize is very intentional as that form of worship echoes many of the core themes and values of the MWF. Here’s what I mean:

Taizé worship focuses on the Spirit: Taizé worship focuses on simple sung meditative prayer. The lyrics and melodies of the songs repeat, allowing the participant to move past reading the music to entering into a more meditative stance. Taizé worship is much less about using your head and much more about using your heart.

Taizé worship arises from community: Taizé worship was developed by a small ecumenical group of monks who came together in Taizé, France, following WWII. While they served the needs of refugees returning to France after the occupation, they began to sing the old monastic chants during their times of worship. When they noticed that the people worshipping with them could not sing along, they developed a series of simple songs in many languages so that everyone could participate.

Taizé worship is not focused on the leader: Taizé worship is a work of the people. There is no sermon, there are no explicit directions about whether to sit or stand, and no need for a team of professional musicians. The music is simple enough that many can join in, and the order of worship is simple enough that it can be followed without verbal instruction.

In many ways, Taizé worship is an echo of the contemplative stance: Show up, pay attention, cooperate with God, and release the outcome.

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Community Voices:

Kathy Leftwich, Fall 2018 Launch & Lead Cohort

“As the National Gathering came to the end of its second full day, we gathered together for a Taizé service at Haw Creek Commons. As I entered the sanctuary the color of the room was striking; the day began cloudy and rainy, but now, the late afternoon sun poured through the stained-glass windows turning the room a rosy-orange color, warm and glowing, inviting us into this special place. I looked around the room and was reminded of the tremendous work that had been, and would be, accomplished; the papers, notes, and Neighboring cards from the last two days were spread across the walls and tables, waiting to be...

Sharing space with new friends and old, we quietly waited to worship together. The musicians gathered, their instruments muffled as they tuned, and then they began playing, softly and easily. The service began with the simple, repetitive songs, the chanted prayers, our voices weaving through the space, mixing and mingling together.

We slowed down together that afternoon, sang and prayed, moved through the service as the elements were blessed and communion was served. I made my way forward and was struck by such a complete feeling of peace and wholeness. I was here, in this place, fully present to God’s grace that was being poured out to us all. This gathering of people, many like myself there for the first time, came together as a community, working together, sharing ideas, and now together before God to worship. To have this experience was such a gift to receive and to carry forth.”

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Theology and Writing:

Jim Hunter, NG participant 

“It is said that Saint Francis would spend entire nights praying continually, “Who am I? Who are you?”  It took me a few days to realize it but that is exactly the stance the break out sessions with Andrea Lingle at this year’s National Gathering led me to take.

It was in the creative memoir writing class that I experienced an unexpected insight as I “let the writing write.”  (Who am I? Who is the authentic me, the one I am called to be.)  

Later, when we explored dialogue and theology, surely we were seeking to see Christ in others and searching for God in our midst. (Who are you? Don’t let me give in to pretension or settle for easy answers. Only the real and true God incarnate will satisfy my longing.)

Now, a few days removed, I continue to ponder and am ever thankful for time with my lay theologian, writer friend. Andrea always inspires me to go deeper and continue the dogged, joyful pursuit, hoping to understand that which will never be fully understood.”