Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'm so neglectful

Please forgive my recent blog neglect. Life's just been a little bit busy. After the team's first planning retreat at the end of September, I took a thesis break for a couple of weeks as I prepared for and then went on a short mini-tour with the family. We did a show in Duncanville and Midland (both in Texas). Then, I came back and have just been so totally focused on our first Sunday back in the church, that I took another week of unintentional thesis break. We've been out of our sanctuary since June as it was in dire need of renovation. This morning was our first Sunday back, and boy have I missed the organ. It was a glorious Sunday indeed, with lots of music and lots of oohing and ahhing over the new paint, floor, refinished pews, reoriented chancel, etc.

As for the thesis - here's where it stands:

We've had our 6 weeks of study and training, as well as our 2 weekend planning retreats. Everything has been really successful. The people in this group have surprised me at every turn and watching them get so excited about planning a worship service is inspiring to say the least. The 5 services are planned with a few extra details to take care of. They still have to pass approval from the Senior Pastor and I imagine there will be things he'll nix. I hope not too much, though. The 5 Sundays begin this next week, and so if he's going to change anything, it better happen tomorrow. Once we get bulletins put together, I'll post them on my google page and link them here so you can see what our plans are.

I spent some time going over the first two services with the pastor this last week and he asked me if I thought the group had planned anything that was really 'out there' or had taken some big risks. And, I said that i didn't think they had at all. It seems to me what they have planned is not a whole lot of innovation. Rather, they've taken what we usually do and enhanced the level of congregational participation. For example, the calls to worship are more involved than just the minister saying a couple of words; there is a lot more unison scripture reading; on All Saints day, in addition to coming forward for communion, people will have an opportunity to light a candle for a loved one who has died; the bulletins for the 5 weeks are coordinated and include more art work in an effort to draw attention to themes and phrases that people should be watching for; a children's bulletin will be designed to pull the children into the action of the service; etc. There's nothing too radical for this congregation - just more focused on their participation. Which is exactly. what. i. had. hoped. for!!! :).

I didn't want them to innovate just for the sake of innovation. But, they have been incredibly creative. Another great little bonus is they all have commented on how they had no idea that putting together a worship service was so much work! I told them that really it can be as little or as much as you want to put into it.

So, now, the Sundays will happen, then we'll evaluate and I'll be a writing fiend for the next 4 months. Oh, and I don't have a choice about my deadline now. I have to turn in my paper on March 1st because I'M GOING ON THE REVGALBLOGPALS CRUISE!!! March 27th, baby! I'm so excited to meet so many of these wonderful ladies. But, by plunking down my deposit, I absolutely have to be done by then. I'll turn in the final draft (approved by my adviser) to the thesis director on the 1st and then have until the 27th to make revisions. I'm not sure how long I have after that to do the formating. I just want to have that call from Dr. B before I leave on the 27th that says, "Congratulations Dr. Stewart, you're approved."

Ok, no more neglect from me, I promise. And no more 'thesis breaks.'


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