As the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) engages in a yearlong, churchwide season of study on the proposed revisions to the Directory for Worship, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s office of Theology and Worship has provided a resource to encourage reflection and comment on this document.
“The Directory for Worship: From the Sanctuary to the Street,” a six-session study guide designed for use by adult Sunday school classes, sessions, presbyteries and other groups, is now available as a free, downloadable resource. It joins the many other resources provided by the office to facilitate the one-year study process. These include an online version of the full text of the directory; translations in Korean and Spanish; a collection of educational resources, historical materials, and news stories about the revision; and a dedicated email address to receive feedback from across the church.
The process of revising the directory—the middle section of the Book of Order, Part II of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—started in 2006 when the 217th General Assembly directed the office of Theology and Worship and the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) to update the directory to be more responsive to changing contexts and diverse cultural expressions, to meet the needs of new worshiping communities, and to allow congregations greater flexibility in ordering and designing worship while continuing to uphold the essentials of Reformed faith, life and worship.
The new study guide, which contains a set of questions for reflection or discussion for the directory’s preface and each of its five chapters, is designed not only to stimulate theological conversation about Presbyterian worship, but also to encourage those who use it to provide their feedback in writing to the denomination.
“Some might assume that the directory is only of interest to pastors, or only useful for settling arguments about what is or isn’t allowed in Presbyterian worship,” writes the Rev. Charles Wiley, coordinator of the office of Theology and Worship, and the Rev. Joyce Lieberman, director for Constitutional Interpretation for the OGA, in the introduction to the study guide. “In fact, this part of our Book of Order helps us to see … how all of Christian life can be experienced as prayer and praise. In this sense, the Directory for Worship pushes us ‘from the sanctuary to the street,’ expanding our understanding of the worship and service of God.”
Another goal of the study guide is to encourage those who use it to offer their input toward finalizing the directory. Comments will be accepted via email through July 1, 2015.
If the document, as amended, is approved by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board at its February 2016 meeting it will be presented to the 222nd General Assembly (2016) for approval to be sent to the presbyteries for inclusion in the Book of Order.
“It is our hope that this study guide—and the document it introduces—will help you to rediscover the heart of Reformed faith, life, and worship in a way that is clear, direct and engaging,” Wiley says. “We pray that, by the grace of God, it will help us to forge new connections between what we believe and how we live—between our adoration in the sanctuary and our action in society.”