Dear Friends,

For many years, Trinity’s Sunday service has blessed worshipers who have attended in person or at home through our pre-recorded Trinity@Home services and, more recently, our live broadcasts. The music – drawn from traditional hymns, praise songs, Gospel music, and “secular” offerings – has been a special strength. Prayers and statements of faith have also been gathered and carefully curated to respond to the spiritual needs of parishioners and guests. Trinity has often pushed the boundaries of what could be considered “Episcopalian” as we have striven to be a progressive, inclusive, and creative community of faith. Most of all, Trinity’s worship has consistently been joyful – it’s been a communal act of praise honoring the God who loves the world so much that he gave his Son Jesus for us.

One of the things that appealed to me about serving as your interim was the way you worshiped. I passionately believe there’s a place for innovation and creativity in worship in The Episcopal Church because much of the church’s traditional worship and music, while beautiful, has little appeal to a large segment of people seeking to pray with others in community. I say this as someone who grew up with traditional worship and as a priest who still loves the way the Anglican tradition “marries” music and liturgy.

With these things as background, I’m writing to let you know of some changes in Trinity’s worship that will take effect starting next Sunday, June 23.

At the recent Clergy Conference, Bishop Anne directed the clergy who serve the parishes in the Diocese of Ohio to use only worship resources authorized by The Episcopal Church for the principal Sunday service. Such resources are those authorized by the General Convention of the church, and, in some cases, those approved by the diocesan bishop. The church’s Book of Common Prayer is the best-known of these. In addition, resources from the Enriching our Worship series may also be used. You can find a complete list of authorized resources here.

What will not be affected?

  • Bishop Anne’s directive will not affect music. Chelsie and Grace, who perform an extraordinary ministry picking music that reflects themes found in the weekly readings, will continue to be able to choose music from all the sources they already are using. This is a huge piece of good news, since a good deal of the joy and power of Trinity’s worship derives from the music we hear and sing together.
  • It will not affect the Prayers of the People. We will still be able to pray in such a way that highlights certain intentions and current concerns. For example, the Prayers of the People for the last two weeks have highlighted Pride and Gun Violence. We’ll continue to find and use prayers like these that are relevant.
  • It will not affect the blessing at the end of the service. The blessing will continue to be sung or said, or some combination of the two.

What will be affected?

  • The opening prayers or “collects.” For some time. we have drawn each Sunday’s opening prayer from Steven Shakespeare’s Prayers for an Inclusive Church. Going forward, the opening collect will come from The Book of Common Prayer. I have respectfully requested that Bishop Anne allow Trinity to use Steven Shakespeare’s collects since they reflect the themes of the readings and point to a world that bears the marks of God’s kingdom. I am waiting for the bishop to reply.
  • The “statement of faith.” Trinity has used the Nicene Creed in a rotation with other statements of faith, none of which has been authorized. So, with the exception of Sundays when we’ll use the Apostles’ Creed because there’s a baptism, we’ll recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday.
  • The Post-Communion Prayer where, instead of sourcing a prayer from Steven Shakespeare or some other location, we’ll use a prayer from Enriching Our Worship or the prayer book.

These changes give me the opportunity to provide some important information, as this parish moves through the transition to your next rector, about who has responsibility for worship:

  • The bishop has the authority and responsibility for worship in his/her/their diocese. As a priest, my authority to baptize, celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and officiate at other rites of the Church is derived from Bishop Anne’s authority. She appointed me as your interim (with the Vestry’s input), and she has licensed me to serve in the Diocese of Ohio. Your next rector’s authority when it comes to worship will also be derived from Bishop Anne.
  • Subject to the pastoral direction of Bishop Anne, your next rector will have full authority and responsibility for the conduct of worship at Trinity. Your next rector may delegate some authority to staff members or share responsibility with others, but the rector will have the last word when it comes to liturgy and music.

As your interim, I will continue to advocate respectfully and tirelessly for permission to use liturgical resources that represent “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) and, at the same time, touch the hearts and minds of God’s people in the 21st Century. I will do this because Trinity’s progressive, inclusive, and creative worship has a great deal to offer those who are already part of this community and those who are longing for authentic contemporary expressions of faith.

Please let me know of your questions and concerns (which is another way of saying, “speak to me directly about this rather than holding parking lot conversations or grumbling to others about your unhappiness.” I want to hear from you directly!)


Stephen Applegate