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Where Two or Three Are Gathered: worship for Small Assemblies – Time after Pentecost – Summer

The Program Committee for Worship of the ELCIC

has commissioned Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies, a series of worship outlines for the seasons of the church year using Evangelical Lutheran Worship as the primary resource.  Each weeks’ worship orders include options for Holy Communion and Service of the Word.  Resources for the Time after Pentecost – Summer were prepared by Sean Bell, the PCW representative from the Saskatchewan Synod.

Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies – Time after Pentecost – Summer




Blessing of the Animals

Francis of Assisi, renewer of the church,

is recognized on October 4.  He is a popular saint, one recognized by both Christian and non-Christians.  Often, statues of St. Francis portray him in a garden speaking with the birds.  He had a love of nature, reflected in his “Canticle of Brother Sun.”  EvLW #835, “All creatures worship God most high,”  is a hymn text based on this canticle.

One the years, in honour of St. Francis, the tradition of “The Blessing of the Animals” is observed in many communities.  Churches, parks, and front lawns become a welcoming place for those animals that we care for or have cared for and are no longer with us.  Pastor Janaki Bandara, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Cambridge, has written a blessing that can be used in a variety of settings, opening up the church doors to the community.  She has shared her liturgy with us here, along with a “Certificate of Blessing” so that people may have a physical reminder of the day.

Although many people will find this service helpful to use on or around October 4, others communities will find that  springtime is more suitable.  Thank you Pastor Janaki for your gift.

service of blessing for pets 2018

pet blessing certificate 2018

Editor’s Note:  If you would like a template of the Pet Blessing Certificate that you adjust for your own use, please contact me at esworshipblog@gmail.com, and I will be happy to send you a copy.  Kathryn Smith

Choral Reading Session

Attention Choir directors and Choir members Join us for a reading of 12 anthems presented by members of the Waterloo-Wellington chapter of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. –        Explore music that is being sung in our local churches that represents a wide variety of styles and voicings –  including some by local composers! –        Connect with other church choir members –        See how the lectionary can be used for music planning –        Take some new ideas home with you Join us May 26 from  10:30-noon at All Saints Lutheran Anglican Church, 210 Silvercreek Pkwy, Guelph Please let Peter West know if you are coming: pawest@golden.net

Worship and Music Conference – Crieff Hills

“Toward (Un)Common Ground: Music, Worship and Reconciliation”

is the theme of the 4th Annual Worship and Music Conference being held at Crieff Hill Retreat and Conference Centre on Friday, June 1, 2018.  All the leaders for the day have a special interest in this topic, and the day promises to be both engaging and enlightening.  See the attached poster for more details and information about registering for the day.

Crieff Poster 2018


Hearts – Hands – Voices


Sponsored by the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, check out this great opportunity to this four day gathering of church musicians.  Conducting, choral leadership, assembly song, and keyboard leadership are just some of the topics that will be covered by a wide variety of musicians and worship leaders.

Hearts – Hands – Voices


Responding to Tragedy

Events, such as bus crash of the 

Humboldt Broncos hockey team and the van attack on the sidewalks of Toronto which took so many lives, can leave one reeling from the magnitude of the tragedy.  As people of God, we share int the pain and sorrow of others and lament and look for ways to express ourselves in our prayers and worship.

It is interesting to note that the theme of the 2018 National Worship Conference Responding to Disaster: Payer, Song, Presence was set many months before these two events took place, and yet speak to the need people have to craft and hear both words of lament and words of comfort.  Looking at how we respond to both natural disasters and those of human making, the conference will help us give “language and song to the emotions people experience” (words taken from publicity poster).

The local planning committee for the National Worship Conference has extended the deadline for early registration to MAY 15. Here are some responses that others are sharing with the wider community. A Lament for Yonge Street, Toronto

Allan Baer, the composer of the song, Songs for times of violence: “When Peaceful Lives are Shaken” recently shared it on the Music United Facebook page.  He writes, “The topic of human violence is hard to find in current church hymnals, and is often missing from our worship as well – other than to offer a few words of prayer as a nod to its existence. It seems so difficult to explain, let alone deal with such evil that we often just ignore it. That makes healing more difficult.”  You will find more background by clicking on the website link titled “The story behind the song.”

When you have experienced disaster or tragedy in your community, what has been your response.  Please let me know at esworshipblog@gmail.com and I will share your responses.

Earth Day

This coming Sunday is Earth Day.  Here are a few

ideas that you can integrate this week, and will spark your imagination going forward.  Although the UN has set aside  this one day as International Earth Day, we are called to be stewards of creation each and every day.

God spoke and the world was created:  “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”

In our Prayers of Intercession:  “With the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, let us pray for the church, those in need, and all of God’s creation.”

Earth Day is a reminder to be intentional about creation each and every day.

From the ELCIC and ACC:  http://www.elcic.ca/news.cfm?article=502

From the United Church of Canada:  http://www.united-church.ca/worship-special-days/earth-sunday.

The article on Acknowledging the Territory, along with the work of Eastern Synod Biennium Reconciliation Initiative

may get you thinking of different ways your congregation can recognize the land on which we live.

Song and Hymn Suggestions Singing Our Prayer:  A Companion to Holden Prayer Around the Cross

Deep Peace #7

For the Healing of Creation #12b

Sing the Circle Wide:  Songs of faith from around the World

La paz de la tierra (The peace of the earth) #25

The Earth does not belong to us #27

Evangelical Lutheran Worship

See hymns 730 – 740, as well as many others, including:

Many and Great #837

Soli Deo Gloria #878

How does your congregation recognize Earth Day and creation every day?


Seniors and Shut-ins Communion and Lunch

Pastoral care of our seniors and shut-ins by visiting

them regularly is a valued ministry of our churches and congregations.  There is often an effort to specifically visit around Easter and Christmas, and to ensure that all those that wish to commune are able to.  This can create added stress to an already busy schedule.  But instead of going and visiting each person individually, what about bringing as many of the people together for a service of Holy Communion?  This has been tried at All Saints Lutheran Church in Guelph three times now and already has become a valued ministry.

The idea is simple – invite all of your seniors and shut-ins to a worship service that is held around lunch time.  After the service, serve a light lunch, where they can continue their fellowship with each other.

The order for worship is simple and encourages participation of everyone.  Use hymns that are familiar and even those who have difficulty holding a book or reading the words will be able to sing or hum along.  Some people may want to participate by singing a special song, playing the organ for a hymn, reading a lesson or leading a prayer.  At our most recent communion and lunch, one gentleman sang a beautiful rendition of “The Holy City” a cappella.  Inviting everyone to pray the Prayer of the Day and the Post Communion Prayer together makes all feel included.  Here is the order of service that was used – adapt this to your own local context:

Gathering Song


Prayer of the Day (said by all)

Scripture Reading


Hymn of the Day


Words of Institution

Lord’s Prayer

Distribution of Holy Communion

Prayer after Communion (said by all)


Sending Song

After the Sending Song, the Table Grace was said, before the people moved to their lunch. Here are a few more practical considerations to think about:

  • It has worked well for us to plan the worship time around lunch.  Many of our senior members find Sunday morning worship difficult to get to – their bodies just don’t want to work that early in the morning, but by lunch they are ready to go.  It also allows them to get home early afternoon and rest before the evening meal.
  • Arrangements were made to assist each person to attend.  Many family members were happy to help out, but people in the congregation were also asked to help.  They would pick the person up, sit with them during the service and lunch and then drive them home.  That person or couple was their only responsibility.
  • Think about how you will serve communion.  At our first communion and lunch, we learned a good lesson.  We thought that it would be good to have everyone near the front of the church, so removed a book rack in front of the first pew to make room for walkers and wheelchairs.  Everyone sat in the second pew or farther back – they wanted something in front of them to help them stand!  Now people are placed at the end of pews throughout the church and we try to keep an empty pew between each row where people are sitting.  This allow the pastor to move between pews and reach each person. What will work best in your place of worship?
  • Be aware of the varying needs of each person communing:  Some can take both bread and wine from the common cup, others will want to intinct their bread and others will need you to intinct the bread for them and place it directly into their mouths.  Take your time.  We’ve found that the people are so happy to be there and appreciate the care given to each person.
  • Think carefully about the best place to serve the lunch.  The usual place may not be the best.  In our situation, the narthex has worked perfectly.  The day before the lunch, volunteers come and clear out any extra furniture, then card tables and chairs are set up, leaving lots of room for walkers and wheelchairs.  Having everything on one level for our guests has worked well.  Yes, the kitchen is downstairs so there is some lugging of food and beverages, but the focus is on our guests.
  • Yes, we have used the “good” dishes, especially the tea cups.  Our guests are worth it.
  • Lunch is simple – a few cut-up vegetables and pickles, and crackers and cheese are on the tables.  Sandwiches, coffee, and tea are served, followed by a sweet tray.
  • The lunch time is as important to our guests as the worship service.  They love being able to visit and reminisce with people they have not seen in a long time.
  • Have enough volunteers – we have used three different shifts:  Set-up the day before, welcoming and serving lunch, clean-up

What are you doing in your church to meet the needs of seniors and shut-ins?  What can we learn from each other?  Send any ideas and comments to: esworshipblog@gmail.com

Worship As Journey: A Day of Learning and Renewal

 Worship as Journey: A Day of Learning and Renewal

Saturday, April 28, 2018
Calvin Presbyterian Church  

Toronto, Ontario

This day-long conference is for everyone interested in worship and music. Presenters include Steve Bell, Ken Medema and others.

Sponsored by Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Reformed Worship magazine, and Interlude.

Learn more and register:

Hymns to Sing

“In the Desert, On God’s Mountain” is a

hymn text by Susan Palo Cherwien.  In the attached article Joshua Zentner-Barrett introduces us to this hymn text and the background behind it.

Joshua was a student at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he studied organ under Marlin Nagtegaal.  Josh was also very involved in the worship and student life at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary – singing in Inshallah, participating in the undergrad program, and worshiping with the Open Door Community.  After WLU, Josh attended Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, where he studied hymnology under C. Michael Hawn.  A M.S.M graduate, he is now the Director of Music at Kanata United Church in Ottawa.

In O Blessed Spring:  Hymns of Susan Palo Cherwien, published by Augsburg Fortress in 1997, this text is set to PICARDY.

Thank you Josh for the enlightening window into this text.

In the Desert, On God’s Mountain

Remembering Those with Mental Illness – Worship Resources

Recently, the students at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

were reminded that there are many in our society who suffer with mental illness when a local university student died by suicide.  During the following days, prayers and songs were spoken and sung as the community remembered the student and also to lift up to God prayers for all who suffer – those living with mental illness, parents, friends, and support people.

As a worshipping community and Christian church, how do we respond and remember those living with mental illness?  What are the words that we use that give hope in the midst of despair?

The Wednesday evening Open Door service at WLS was carefully crafted to include times of silence, prayers and song, which recognized the pain of those who are hurting, while showing light and hope amid the darkness.

Stay With Us   is a song from an Easter Cantata by Ron Klusmeier and Walter Farquharson, based on the Emmaus story found in Luke 24.  “Stay with us through the night.  Stay with us through the pain.  Stay with us, blessed stranger, ’till the morning breaks new bread.”  Congregations may use this song for free, as a gift from Ron and Walter.

“Between Darkness and Light” also expresses the reality of walking in the in-between places, while opening the “window of light” and “planting the seeds of love.”  This song is available in the Inshallah songbook, Sing the Circle Wide, available at Sperlings Church Supply.

One of the prayers used was “A Prayer for People Living with Mental Illness”, by Amy Simpson.  Notice all the different people that are included in the prayer.

The Synod of Alberta and Territories has crafted worship resources under the title “A Day to Remember Those With Mental Illness.”  Here you will find helpful suggestions and guidelines, a service outline and a sermon.  The link will also take  you to other resources collected by C.A.RE (Congregational Action and REsponse for Mental Health.

What other resources have you used?  Send to esworshipblog@gmail.com so we can keep the conversation going.


Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies – Easter

The Program Committee for Worship of the ELCIC has commissioned Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies, a series of worship outlines for the seasons of the church year using Evangelical Lutheran Worship as the primary resource.  Each week’s worship orders include options for Holy Communion and Service of the Word.  The resource for Easter was prepared by Lorraine Reinhardt, BC Synod. We hope you find these outlines helpful in your worship planning.

Where Two or Three are Gathered: Worship for Small Assemblies – Easter 2018


Upcoming Events – March 2018 edition

Worship, Liturgy, Song, Being Together

There are a number of workshops, conferences and day long events that those involved in worship leadership will find inspiring and enriching.  Check out these events in Valparaiso, Indiana, the Grand River Ministry Area, the Ottawa Ministry Area and from Liturgy Canada.


2018 Institute of Liturgical Studies

Now celebrating its 69th institute, each year during the second week of Easter, clergy, musicians and other worship leaders meet at Valparaiso University for the Institute of Liturgical Studies, three days of continuing education, worship, community and renewal.

Plenary presenters Jessicah Krey Duckworth, Paul Hoffman, Maxwell Johnson and Craig Satterlee will engage us in these questions of baptismal meaning and renewal for our own time. Practical workshops around this theme geared to pastors, musicians and worship leaders will be offered Tuesday and Wednesday.

A highlight of this institute is the opportunity to worship in Valparaiso’s Chapel of the Resurrection. The liturgies used for worship will offer eucharistic and other prayer offices to help us reflect on how we are formed by the gift of baptism. The Harre Student Union will be the home for the institute’s registration, plenary presentations, meals and exhibits. Its proximity to the chapel makes walking distances accessible and convenient.

It is not too late to register! Registration and information about workshops, seminars, worship and the schedule are available at valpo.edu/ils.


Grand River Ministry Area  A Worship Leadership Event

It Takes a Village…

Trusting and Inspiring One Another

To Become an Effective Music Ministry Team

2 Stimulating Workshops for Clergy, Musicians and Lay Leaders

“Beyond the Bench: Essential Skills for a 21st-Century Music Ministry” – Chris Fischer, Pastoral Musician, Knox Presbyterian Church, Guelph

“From ‘Me’ to ‘We’: Clergy-Musican Relationships and Implications for Worship” – Rev. Jacquie Foxall, Minister, Knox Presbyterian Church, Oakville

Saturday, April 14, 2018

9:00 AM – 12:00 pm

Knox Presbyterian Church, 20 Quebec Street, Guelph

Worship Leadership Event – Guelph


Ottawa Ministry Area

You are invited to Ottawa to participate in an upcoming Centered in Song event, as part of the Center for Congregational Song Launch Tour.  Watch for a similar event to be held in Toronto later this fall.  Visit the following sites for more information and to register:



Website: https://congregationalsong.org/event/centered-song-ottawa/

Registration Link: https://www.regonline.com/centeredinsongottawa
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1726096527457244/


Liturgy Canada event

Real Presence: Sharing the Meal

April 28, 2018

9:00 am to 3:30 pm

Lizette Larson-Millar, Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Huron University College, London, Ontario will be the keynote speaker.


Song at the Table – led by Scott Weidler

Honouring the Stuff of Creation – led by Paul Bosch

Including Children and Youth: Imagining a Eucharistic Liturgy that fully honours the presence of Children and Youth – Alicia Becker

Making Space at the Table – David Fletcher and Gregor Sneddon

April 28 Liturgy Canada Event Poster


Holy Week Resources

Readings for Sunday of the Passion and Good Friday

Thank you for Dr. Rev. Kimberlynn McNabb for sharing these resources for Holy Week.  Pastor Kimber McNabb is the pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Halifax, Dean of the Atlantic Ministry Area, and Sessional Instructor at the Atlantic School of Theology.

Holy Week – The Valley of Tears

Solemn Reproaches

If you have a prayer, song, lament or other piece that you written that you would like to share, please send to esworshipblog@gmail.com

Peace to you in this Season of Lent,

Kathryn Smith

National Worship Conference

Responding to Disaster: Prayer, Song and Presence 

is the theme for a timely and meaningful worship conference to be held in Victoria, BC, July 16 – 19, 2018.  All Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada parishes, clergy, music leaders and worship planners are invited to register for the conference beginning March 1, 2018.


This year’s National Worship Conference aims to assist us, as people of faith, in responding liturgically, theologically and ritually to natural disaster (earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane), all of which are increasingly impinging upon our experience; as well as disasters of human making, such as terrorism and violence. Often, in such situations, it is the church that is called upon to give language and song to the emotions people experience. We will bring our rich traditions together and give voice to the unspeakable.

Our conference worship will be shaped by lections that help give expression to an overarching theme: From Dissonance & Lament toward Transformation & Harmony. Over the course of the conference, worship will move from a cathartic outpouring of grief and frustration to a place of greater calm in the face of a still chaotic world; mirroring through music and spoken word, the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

This conference promises to be a powerfully moving and uplifting experience for all who attend. We hope you will join us.

Keynote Speaker – Rev. Dr. Lizette Larson-Miller
Theologian, musician and liturgical writer exploring rites for use with the sick and dying, considerations of sacred space, popular religiosity and contemporary ritual issues. She is currently the Professor of Moral & Pastoral Theology at Huron University College at Western University in London, Ontario.

Lead Musician – Mr. Chad Fothergill
Organist, composer, writer and doctoral musicology student, researching the Lutheran Cantor tradition in both its Reformation-era and present-day contexts.

This conference is for you! Musicians & Liturgists

This conference provides unique opportunities for musicians and Liturgists to share and network ideas and resources. As this is a conference about worship much of our time in plenary and worship will draw upon the musical history and energy we share in the Anglican and Lutheran traditions, and of course beyond those traditions.

Rural and Urban

We understand that both rural and urban church communities are vital centers of ministry and mission; that they have a story and resource to share, and that together we are the church.  This conference has been designed to address the particular needs of both rural and urban churches across our country.

National Worship Conference ad

Register at:  http://www.nationalworshipconference.org

To promote and share information about this conference, visit this link to a dropbox folder where you can access promotional materials to help us spread the word about this exciting conference happening July 16-19 in Victoria BC.     We encourage you to share on Facebook, twitter, bulletin boards, weekly bulletins and monthly newsletters.