Sunday, January 3, 2010


I am on the NY diocesan Episcopal-Methodist dialogue committee, and as such I thought it my duty to actually attend a Methodist church service to see what goes on there. I thought I had done this in late 2008 when I attended a weekday lunch service at the John Street church in lower Manhattan, but it turned out that this service is officiated by a Baptist preacher who more or less rents the space out. So, prompted by Sunday school at my own church being cancelled today, I went to Christ Church on Park and 60th, which had been recommended to me by my Methodist colleagues on the committee. As I greeted him at the end of the service, the pastor said it was "just like Episcopal" which in some ways was not much of an exaggeration--it surely was a rather 'high' Methodist service, with taking communion at the altar and the clergy being robed--though there were many differences (neither the Nicene nor the Apostles' Creed, which would never occur in the Episcopal Church, also, confession and post-communion prayer much less punitive and/or humble in tone, hymn after offertory instead of a doxology). Nonetheless, with the Byzantine/Romanesque interior and the familiarity of much of what went on, one can see a 'catholicity' in the service--the United Methodist Church may not at this point be apostolic or liturgical, but it certainly is catholic with a very small c. The peace was much earlier in the service, which made it more a greeting, less a perfunctory occasion. And, of course, the Methodists do not have a prayer book; everything but the hymns is in the leaflet. I do wish they would not use the modern Lord's Prayer, not so much as I have stuffy objections to more contemporary languages but that I always forget to say it in the modern way, just as I always forget to leave out the last line in a Catholic church...still a fun visit and a good way to start out 2010, as the minister said, jettisoning all the baggage of the previous year...

To Australia for most of month, suspect I won't post again until Feb. and Super Bowl time.