New worship service begins at Mercer

Students and campus religious leaders gathered in Penfield Hall to celebrate their love of God through a debut worship service. The atmosphere of the service was one of meditation as students gathered around an altar covered in candles. Guitar music played before the service commenced, and was also used for the worship songs. The building was dark, to promote the meditative environment where the students could encounter God in stillness and in quiet.  Students were encouraged to make themselves comfortable, which included bringing pillows or cushions, and even taking off shoes.

Taize worship originated in 20th century France through a monk named Brother Roger. Roger formed this style of service during World War II, under the belief that worship could aid the victims of the war. Following the war, Roger took a long retreat where he then wrote the “Rule of Taize.”  The name Taize itself comes from the monastic community in southeastern France that Roger settled in during the war. What distinguish this form of worship from other forms of Christian worship are the qualities of repetition and silence. According to the songbook of the monks, “Using just a few words, [the worship] expresses a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being.”

The idea for this service at Mercer was spearheaded by current Emory seminary student Ted Goshorn. Goshorn, along with other students such as senior Allison Harrison, wanted a way to bring all of the campus ministries together in a time that wasn’t simply dedicated to lecture. Harrison said that Mercer’s Wednesday morning services are primarily centered on lecture, which detracts from the worship aspect. The Taize worship provides a reflective and individual experience. “It’s a really nice way to start off the week,” said Harrison.

Reflection is an ideal concept of the Taize form, as it allows for the meditation on the repetitive songs and the periods of silence that are interspersed throughout the service.

“I’m really glad I brought my journal, since I’m a reflective person,” said Taylor Feeney, a senior English major and participant at the event

Mercer has always been open to new student ministries, evident by the variety of organizations that are on campus. From Christianity to Islam, Mercer is a place where any student can worship and be with other students who worship with the same faith.

Harrison said that the service was a chance to see how large the student interest was, and that further planning could go from there. Since there was an attendance of roughly 30 students, another meeting was announced at the end of the service. All who are interested in volunteering or attending this service should attend the Nov. 10 meeting at 9 p.m.