Our 12 South Australian Anglican schools gather at our Cathedral for a combined worship service each year.
Initially, selected students from each school arrived at the Cathedral, sat in a pew and participated in a student-led worship service with a chosen theme.
We realised that these students had no idea why they were participating in this service and how it was relevant to the worship life of their school community.
For these reasons, we designed a worship experience for students so that they could learn more about their mother church, interact with students from other schools, and actively engage in the preparation of a combined Anglican service.
The following is an outline of our combined service that now takes place. It provides an opportunity for students to interact with their peers whilst moving around and learning about the Cathedral. The service also offers an opportunity for students to actively prepare for worship.
Each school selects 20 students to attend a morning workshop and service. Students are each given a number from 1 to 6. We meet in the body of the church and are welcomed by the Dean of the Cathedral. Each school is invited to say hello by robustly stating their schools’ name, doing a Mexican wave or giving a cheer.
Instructions are given about the theme and outline of the morning. Students move to their allocated group number and, for the next hour and a half, move around the Cathedral to learn about the mother church, the theme of service, and prepare to worship.
Group 1 – moves to cathedral steps and prepares prayers for our service by writing chalk messages about the theme. Prayers are then selected to be read by student leaders at our concluding service.
Group 2 – moves to the choir stalls and meets our guest speaker, who introduces the theme of the service. Last year students met with our Indigenous Bishop Chris Mcleod, who spoke and asked questions about reconciliation. This year students will meet with Meghan Schwartz from The Anglican Board of Mission to discuss our theme of Global Citizenship. Meghan has prepared an interactive jigsaw game and will refer to this participatory game in her address at our concluding worship service.
Group 3 – will meet with the Precentor of the Cathedral in the upstairs loft and bell tower to learn about the history of the Cathedral.
Group 4 – will meet in the Lady Chapel to learn a selection of contemporary and traditional prayers with meditative yoga-like movements applied to each line to connect body and soul as prayers are said. An example being:
Our Father in Heaven – arms in the air pointing to heaven
Hallowed be your name – 2 arms come down, hands up
Your Kingdom come – one arm sweeps up to the sky
Your will be done – other arm sweeps up to the sky
On earth – arms sweep down to the floor
as it is in heaven – sweep both arms to heaven
Give us today our daily bread – hands out cupped like a bowl
Forgive us our sins – hands to forehead
as we forgive those who sinned against us – hold hands with someone near you
Save us from the time of trial – arms crossed in front
And deliver us from evil – sweep arms out to the side
For the power and glory are yours forever and ever. – three large arm sweeps finishing with prayer in front of the heart
Group 5 – is taken on a spooky tour of the crypt and choir rooms.
Group 6 – meets in a soundproof area to learn two new songs for our worship service. Students who play instruments are invited to assist in leading these workshops and during the worship service. The cathedral organ is also played during our concluding service so students can experience this form of traditional worship.
Each group then rotates every 10-15 minutes.
Morning tea is served after these workshops so students can keep connecting, and then we gather in the Cathedral to worship using the songs and prayers and expand on the theme of the day. Students from each school are involved in the leading of this service. Principals and Bishops are also invited to attend. A special blessing is given to school chaplains and selected students from each school are asked to come forward to lay hands on their chaplain.
The feedback from students and staff has been positive. It has also been a great opportunity for chaplains to work together creatively, to involve other Anglican organisations; and for our students to have a fun, interactive way of learning about their Anglican tradition.
This is one way that our SA chaplains have sought to bring our schools together. I wonder if other states have done similar things and if so, please share some of these experiences in the comments below.