Friday, July 2, 2010

The Sunday Bulletin: A Key to Parish Life

Each Sunday St. Timothy’s publishes a service bulletin. This simple 8 ½” x 11” folded sheet of paper provides a great deal of information in a small space. It has a number of purposes:

  1. To provide a “theme” or key to this Sunday’s worship and place in the Liturgical Year. This is achieved by the artwork and/or quote from the Scriptures or other source on the cover.
  2. When opened, a guide to the contents of the Holy Eucharist printed on the left side of the bulletin. Page numbers for relevant sections of the Book of Common Prayer are provided. Sung portions of the liturgy from the Hymnal are indicated by being capitalized. If a special insert containing prayers or music is to be used, this is also noted. This section is likely to be very useful to newcomers or newer members!
  3. On the right side of the bulletin’s inner face is a list of intercessions: those persons or concerns for which we are bidden to pray as a community. While St. Timothy’s has a Prayer Circle that prays for a wide variety of concerns through the week (you may call/e-mail the parish office, speak with the Rector, or contact Prayer Circle Coordinator Barbara Watson if you desire prayers to be added to this list), extremely urgent concerns or particularly significant thanksgivings are listed on the Sunday bulletin. Please add these names to your daily prayers.
  4. On the bottom of the right-side page is a brief list of services/events/observances during the week. Give this section a careful scan to see if something interests you!
  5. On the back of the bulletin are slightly more detailed announcements about parish activities, usually concluding with the parish Mission Statement. This is not institutional “fluff”: it is the tool we use to measure whether plans, goals, and activities are in harmony with our sense of calling from God. Get to know your parish Mission Statement and use it in your own Christian walk through the week.
The bulletin may include a number of inserts on any given Sunday. Most services have a pre-printed Scripture insert to help you follow the lessons read in the service or the content of the sermon. You may want to mark key passages for later study/reflection. There could be an insert with special prayers for this service. Other inserts with details of upcoming activities, worship services, and appeals for supporting a church-related mission opportunity may also be found. As you can see, this is a central way we communicate events in our common life.

Make sure to take your Sunday Bulletin home with you each week. Do not leave it at church to be recycled. It is meant to be used! Put it up on the refrigerator or other visible location at home and consult it often. It will help unlock some unintentional “mysteries” of parish life, and gradually familiarize you with the language, rhythm, and character of the Episcopal way of living out the Gospel.

(Image: Courtesy of The Cartoon Church)

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