The Worship Commission plans worship series, serves as a resource to worship leaders, and considers, with pastoral team, the direction and content of worship at Community Mennonite Church. The commission finds and schedules worship leaders, song leaders, instrumentalists, and other people who participate in worship. While those leaders usually plan the details of a given service, Worship Commission is responsible for what happens before, during, and in response to worship: preparation of the worship space, communicating with the congregation prior to the service, and considering the responses of the congregation to worship.
- Worship Commission will be kept informed of pastoral concerns regarding worship and work with pastors to lead worship that is relevant, meaningful, creative, and inspiring.
- Worship Commission will seek ways to involve the many gifts within the congregation and to provide a variety of music styles.
- Worship Commission will coordinate with pastoral team and worship leaders for the purpose of providing visual arts that tie into the theme and content.
- Worship Commission will maintain a master worship calendar to schedule all the elements of Sunday morning services and special services and to track information about worship services. The commission will also maintain a guide for worship planners and provide additional resources as needed.
- Worship Commission will review annually the financial needs of the committees and present budget requests in writing to the finance committee. The commission will stay within budget guidelines; overspending must be approved by the finance committee and council.
- Worship Commission will evaluate its work and methods every three years, or more often as needed. The commission is accountable to Council, which will determine if and when written reports are required for Council or for the congregation.
- Worship Commission meets 8 to 10 times per year.
Members & Committees:
- Chair: Kathie Kurtz (2023)
- Vice Chair: Brian Martin Burkholder (2025)
- Members at large: Scott Barge, Angie Clemens, Joy Kreider, Carolyn Yoder
- Worship Arts Committee (Chair: Carmen Wyse)
- Ushers Committee (Coordinator: Matt Ruth)
- Livestream Volunteers (Coordinator: Wayne Gehman)
- Arts Council (Chair: Aili Huber)
The Worship Commission comprises the following members.
- Chair. Nominated by the Gift Discernment Committee and affirmed by the congregation for a three-year term. Responsible for the function of this commission and for serving as a member of Church Council. The chair's primary responsibilities are to lead the efforts of the Worship Commission and to coordinate communication between council and the Worship Commission. Each year the Chair reviews the commission membership and, with the help of ministers and members, calls new members to the commission.
- Pastoral Team Representative. As determined by Pastoral Team.
- Worship Arts Representative. Member of Worship Arts committee chosen by that committee to function as a member of Worship Commission and to coordinate worship arts needs, ideas, and requirements between the committee and the commission.
- Members at Large. Three to four people who participate in Worship Commission discussions and assist with some aspect of worship planning. This may include scheduling, music, worship leading, or something else. Members at large should be chosen so that their gifts and responsibilities are complementary; whether more members are needed should depend on whether additional responsibilities need to be assigned.
- Youth Representative. Optional, depending on interest.
Worship Commission is responsible for these committees:
- Worship Arts
- Sound System
Worship Commission will accept and process agenda sent from these committees, and will make decisions for these committees when the committees do not have the authority to make those decisions.
Worship planning at Community Mennonite Church is a collaboration with the Holy Spirit and the various people who are involved in the service. As the worship planner, you are responsible for convening the people involved in the worship service. You may do this electronically or in person. Sunday morning, 30 minutes before worship begins, the worship planner will convene the group of primary participants to "walk through" the worship service and pray together. The worship leader, song leader, and the preacher for each Sunday are assigned on the worship calendar by pastoral team and the Worship commission. This group is responsible for planning the elements of the service, and the worship leader is responsible for preparing an order of service.
You are probably planning a worship service that belongs to a series of Sundays. It is important to understand how this service fits into the whole series. Is there a key scripture verse, an image, a pattern for prayer, or a song that will help the community find both continuity and fresh opportunity for meeting God??
Scripture is the deep guiding words at the foundation of all our worship services.
"The Bible is the essential book of the church. Through the Bible, the Holy Spirit nurtures the obedience of faith to Jesus Christ and guides the church in shaping its teaching, witnessing, and worship." —Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective
Read and prayerfully listen to the scriptures for the day. What names/images of God are revealed? How might these names and images suggest a way of praying, or the tone of worship service? The preacher and song leader are also reading these scriptures. If a CMC pastor is preaching, a "sermon plan" will be provided (one to two weeks before the worship service), which will give you a sense of the sermon theme and other elements of the service.
We have many skilled music leaders at CMC and a song leader is assigned for each Sunday. Most song leaders enjoy choosing music for the worship service but are open to suggestions you may have. However, the song leader has to choose songs that he or she is comfortable leading and that will work well musically for the congregation. As worship leader, you can help the song leader by indicating where in the order of worship you wish to include congregational singing as well as suggestions for
themes, moods, images, timing, etc.
Almost every service has someone assigned by Worship commission to play the prelude and offertory. If the song leader needs additional musicians to accompany hymns, he or she is responsible for recruiting them (with help available from Worship commission).
A member of our Worship Arts committee is assigned to each Sunday. In addition, the whole committee often works together on a visual focus for worship during a series. As worship leader, be in touch with worship arts if you have particular ideas for the visual elements of the service.
Children of all ages attend worship at CMC and it benefits the whole community to consider worship from their perspectives. Are some of the songs accessible to younger worshipers? Is there an opportunity for movement, such as bringing offerings forward? Is there a children's time or reading that encourages children to be involved?
Time belongs to God. As worship leader, you are a steward of this time on behalf of the gathered community. Careful planning will allow you and others in leadership to not feel rushed. CMC begins worship at 9 a.m. (September through mid June) and at 9:30 a.m. in the summer. We plan for worship services to be about 70 minutes.
Planned silence can be helpful in worship and requires good guidance from a worship leader.
As Worship Planner you are responsible for creating the overall flow of the worship service. The elements of worship are not static, but help us move with the guidance of God's Spirit. If you have a sense for the movement of the worship service, then you will be able to make clear choices about the order, and the role of various elements in worship. Our pattern for worship tends to include the following elements:
- Hearing God's Word
At times there may be reasons to change our pattern. For example, during a season of penitence, like Lent, our "Praising" movement might become "Confessing/Reconciling." Some elements of the service may fit in different movements in different services. For example, the offering may work well in "Gathering" one Sunday, and in "Responding" another Sunday.
Create a draft of the order of worship early in the week before the service in order to let the preacher and the song leader make their contributions to it. As worship leader, it is your responsibility to send the final version of the order of worship to the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) by noon on Thursday so that the bulletin can be completed on time. You may need to create two documents: one for the bulletin materials, and one including instructions for leaders. Material for inserts used for congregational readings must also be sent to the church office.
Welcome and Call to Worship
The opening words (often including prayer) set a tone for worship. Be generous in offering words of welcome to newcomers and long-time members alike. In most cases, say something brief to call attention to the start of the worship service, prior to the prelude. The full welcome and call to worship generally follow the prelude.
- Voices Together
- Hymnal: A Worship Book
Sing the Story
Sing the Journey
- Notice the worship resources in the backs of these hymnals. These can be used for calls to worship, prayers before the offering, affirmations of faith, and benedictions, among other uses.
- Leader (Magazine published by MC USA)
- The Chair of Worship Commission can provide this resource. Materials for Advent and Lent are often drawn from this resource.
- Congregational Resource Center (Eastern Mennonite Seminary, main floor)
- This is a library of worship and congregational resources. Hours are M-F, 7:30 am to 5 pm. For evening use, contact the director at (540) 432-4219 or email@example.com.
- Text This Week
- A collection of ecumenical worship resources organized according to the lectionary scripture texts. It can also be searched by scripture reference.
- Narrative Lectionary
- Readings and prayers for each week of the narrative lectionary.
- Gifts Discernment Survey List
- List of people who have offered to participate in worship services, compiled each year by the Gifts Discernment Committee.
- The preacher or the Worship Commission should provide scriptures and themes to the worship leader at least two weeks in advance. Make contact with other participants two weeks in advance.
- Be in touch early in the week with the musicians who are playing the prelude and offertory in order to communicate the tone or worship theme of the service. Musicians may also want to know what other music is planned for the service so as to intentionally repeat—or avoid repeating—a hymn that's being sung.
- Choose scripture readers who will effectively present the scripture for the day. At CMC we generally use the NRSV translation for worship. Be in touch with the preacher if you are considering something else or there is a dramatic presentation of the scripture.
- Offertory prayer—This prayer is generally offered by the worship leader. At times there are special offerings. Ask the lead pastor if you questions about a special offering.
- A head usher is assigned for each Sunday. This person will want to know how the offering will be received (baskets placed up front, ushers passing baskets, etc.) and which hymnals are needed. Communicate with the head usher Sunday morning.
- Pre-worship gathering. Invite participants to walk-through elements of the service and pray together 30 minutes before the service. Pay special attention to transition between the various elements of the service. If something can simply be done, rather than announced first, it should be.
- Sharing time is a CMC standard and is included in the service each week except in very rare cases. It is impossible to predict how many people will choose to speak on any given Sunday, but be aware that however closely you have timed the order of worship, it may be extended, possibly by quite a bit.
- Announcements are normally done after sharing (or can be considered part of sharing), summarized by one of the pastors. If there are lengthier announcements planned, this will affect the timing of the worship service and may affect where the announcement fits in the order of worship. Be in touch with the pastor who is summarizing the announcements to coordinate.
- Our CMC sound technicians will appreciate a call in advance if you have special audio-visual needs. On Sunday, communicate with the sound technician regarding hand-held or lapel microphones and any other needs. The use of a projector and laptop must be arranged in advance of the service. Contact the chair of the CMC Technology committee (via the church office, if necessary) for assistance.