Divine Grace, Diverse Means: Sunday Worship in United Methodist Congregations

Saliers, Don E. “Divine Grace, Diverse Means: Sunday Worship in United Methodist Congregations.” In The Sunday Service of the Methodists: Twentieth-Century Worship in Worldwide Methodism. Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, ed. Pp. 137-156. Nashville, TN: Kingswood Books, 1996.

Don Saliers in “Divine Grace, Diverse Means” explores historical, cultural, liturgical and contemporary patterns which have shaped and continue to shape Sunday morning worship in the United Methodist Church, concluding with thoughts relevant to an emerging United Methodist theology of worship. Saliers cites L. Edward Phillips who located four distinct patterns of Methodist worship which emerged between the 1870s and 1975: the revival pattern, the Sunday School pattern, the Anglican-aesthetic pattern and the Word and Table pattern. These patterns and the tensions they create continue today. <p> Saliers addresses the contemporary worship debate by calling for integrity, depth and meaningful theological content to United Methodist Worship. The recent publications of the United Methodist Hymnal (1989) and the United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) provide resources to address “a resilient theology of worship.” The marks of a theology of worship in the United Methodist Church are: (1) the central claim of God freely offered in Jesus Christ, made alive in the Holy Spirit; (2) the grounding of worship in the whole Bible; (3) a commitment to social holiness; and (4) the integration of word, sacrament and vital experience.