Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Baptist church that's a little different

My denomination has a descriptive tract titled "A Baptist Church With a Difference." Baptists who worship on the seventh day Sabbath are a little different, but any Baptist who happened to wander into one of our churches on a Sabbath morning would probably find the worship experience familiar. This Baptist church in Virginia would probably seem much less so. I think I might like it very much.
Sunday mornings at All Souls Charlottesville are fairly common for an Anglican congregation.

The Book of Common Prayer and the Revised Common Lectionary are standard, creeds are spoken together, the Eucharist is the central focus of the liturgy and the minister blesses the congregation before it scatters back into the world.

But the Charlottesville, Va., congregation isn’t an Episcopal church. It’s Baptist — in fact it’s a plant of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2014. ....

While being contemplative and having an intense focus on the sacrament of communion are not necessarily the same, a growing number of Baptist churches are exploring elements of both in an era when Christians and “nones” are rejecting highly produced, modern worship experiences. ....

A baptism at All Souls
“Some of the ancient traditions have come to the fore as people realize some of the noisy parts of worship do not allow the heart room to engage,” Marshall said.

...All Souls provides a balance between the liturgical and sacramental on one hand and congregational autonomy on the other. ....

For Chandler, a former Baptist pastor who grew up in traditional Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina, the lure of All Souls has been its attention to the Christian calendar.

“With the reordering of time and space, you begin to think about the rhythms of the year and the rhythms of the week, and time takes on this worship quality about it,” he said. “It really teaches us a way to look at our lives differently.” ....

The common denominator of being Baptist — the authority of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, priesthood of the believer — is modeled at All Souls just as it is in other kinds of Baptist congregations, he said. .... [more]