Church Tradition Paper 20%
In order to better understand the Christian traditions, you will visit the Sunday morning worship service of a local church congregation. You can choose any church from the approved list in Appendix A of the syllabus. Attendance in groups is encouraged. Prior to your visit you will need to research the tradition and denomination of the church. This involves the following: 1) Read an article on the history, theology, and practices of the tradition; 2) Visit the church’s website and denomination’s website to learn more about the particular church and denomination 3) Verify service times, location, and inform yourself of protocols and customs of the congregation (e.g., appropriate dress, whether or not you should take communion if it is served). When you visit, remember that you are in a setting of worship.
Observe and notice all you can, but do not disrupt the congregation or inhibit the service in any way. If possible, you should also arrange to meet privately with one or more leaders of the congregation (clergy or lay) to discuss your impressions of the services and to ask questions about the congregation. You are expected to be proactive and seek answers to questions. During your visit you ought to seek to answer the following the questions:
1. What are the distinct beliefs and practices of the particular Christian tradition? Who are the persons that have shaped this tradition? What are the distinctives of the denomination of the church you are visiting and how does it compare to other denominations in the same tradition? You will need to consult at least one article or book on this tradition or denomination from the library prior to your visit. See [the handout Works of Reference on the Christian Traditions] for [a list of dictionaries and encyclopedias (which, however, you should employ as points of entry only, not substitutes for the search for books and articles)]. Note: your paper will be marked down at least 10% if you skip this step. [Comments enclosed within square brackets ([ ]) those of Theology Librarian Steve Perisho, not Dr. Lim.]
2. When was the congregation founded? How? By whom? Was it for any particular ethnic, cultural, and/or socio-ethnic group? How many members (or families) currently belong? What is the current ethnic, cultural, and/or socio-ethnic composition of the congregation?
3. Describe the architecture, furnishings and decor of the sanctuary and the other church facilities. What theological messages and/or spiritual “feel” does the building communicate to the worshipers?
4. What is its approach to worship? Is the church “liturgical” or “non-liturgical”? Do they observe holy days and festivals? Does the worship encourage participation by the whole congregation, and if so how? What kinds of vocal and/or instrumental music (e.g., chants, hymns, praise choruses, preludes, anthems, etc.) are used? What are the roles of its various leaders? Who gave the sermon and what was it about?
5. How does the congregation go about discipleship and ministry? Sunday school classes? Small groups? Evangelism? Missions? Ministries to the community? What role are women permitted to play in the church? 6. What did you personally gain out of visiting this church and learning about its tradition?
You will then write a 5 page, double spaced paper in response to the questions above. You must keep a copy of the worship bulletin from your visit and include it when you turn in your paper.
APPENDIX A: CHURCH VISITATION SITES
19421 Ashworth Ave N
Shoreline, WA 98133
St. James Cathedral
804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104
Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church
7500 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, Washington 98103
University Presbyterian Church
4540 15th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
1634 19th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
1245 Tenth Avenue East
Seattle WA 98102
Evergreen Mennonite Church. Meets at Kirkland Congregational Church
106 5th Ave Kirkland, WA 98033
Rainier Avenue Free Methodist Church
4517 South Juneau Seattle, WA 98118
Vineyard Christian Fellowship
4142 Brooklyn Avenue Northeast
Seattle, WA 98105