Downtown churches join for Taize´ worship

by W. Winston Skinner


A Taizé worship service is held last year at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran of Rome, Italy. The quiet worship style will be offered monthly by two Newnan churches starting on Tuesday. 

Taizé worship is soft, quiet and contemplative.

“It is a be still and know type of experience in the busyness of life,” said JoAn Kinrade. D.C. Adams said Taizé offers a place to “just listen and be.”

The worship is so quiet and unstructured that it can be uncomfortable — at least initially — for many traditional Protestant worshippers.

“It’s kind of a shock at first,” Adams said. “The first time is kind of unnerving.” The power of Taizé comes “once you let go and let God have control,” he explained.

The Taizé concept started in an ecumenical community in the French village of Taizé and has spread around the world.

Taizé services have been held in homes, small churches and majestic cathedrals. The congregations at First United Methodist Church and Newnan Presbyterian Church — the two houses of worship face each other on Greenville Street in downtown Newnan — have each had a taste of Taizé.

Now the two churches are joining forces to present Taizé on a regular basis in Coweta County. The first service will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Newnan Presbyterian. Services will continue monthly on the third Tuesday — Nov. 19 at the Methodist church and Dec. 17 at the Presbyterian.

Kinrade, associate pastor at First Methodist, and Adams, associate pastor at Newnan Presbyterian, are both enthusiastic about what Taizé offers.

Adams described Taizé as “a very intentional community coming together to turn off everything.” There is music but it is simple and spare. A goal is “making sure the music doesn’t get in the way of that one-on-one time with God,” he said. There is no sermon. Brother Roger, the Swiss man who founded Taizé, said there was “too much talking in worship.”

There are aspects from lots of traditions in Taizé worship. The soft candles are reminiscent of Orthodox traditions. The long periods of quiet can seem like a Quaker Meeting experience, and the reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide when and for how long a song is sung bears similarities to African-American worship styles.

“The prayers are both spoken and sung. It’s very personal, very intimate, very Holy Spirit-filled,” Kinrade reflected. It is not “typical church,” she said.

“It’s not necessarily pastor-led. It can be lay-led,” Adams said. He and Kinrade both noted that can mean the pastor might be able to attend worship at his/her own church as a participant without having to move the service forward. “It gives us a chance to fully be in worship,” Kinrade said.

Kinrade said hundreds of thousands of people of all faiths have experienced the peace of Taizé. During World War II — with the help of his sister and other friends, Brother Roger practiced a ministry of hospitality for anyone fleeing the terrors of war.

Taizé was near the demarcation line dividing France under the Nazis. Before long, friends in Lyon were simply giving the address of Taizé to all who needed refuge.

Their desire was to create a community of hospitality and trust for people from all countries, and particularly a place of refuge for those from Eastern Europe. Brother Roger thought that Taizés mission was to be a "parable of community,” a small but visible sign of reconciliation.

Brother Roger and those who began the movement with him believed the struggle for liberation had to begin in the human heart.

The introduction of Taizé by the two downtown churches is “a joint effort to reach out and serve the community,” Kinrade emphasized. “We’ll know it’s meeting the third Tuesday of every month.”

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