How We Seek God Together: Exploring Worship Style [video]

How We Seek God Together: Exploring Worship Style. Worship, Music and Religious Identity Project, Boston University School of Theology. Linda J. Clark, principal investigator. Prod. James Ault Productions, Northampton, Massachusetts. The Alban Institute, 2000.

How We Seek God Together: Exploring Worship Style, a 13 minute, professionally-produced videotape designed to accompany the book by the same title, provides a window onto the “sound and sight” of the different worship styles of the three churches investigated by the Worship, Music and Religious Identity Project of the Boston University School of Theology. The three churches portrayed are Carter Memorial United Methodist Church (Needham, MA), Columbus Avenue African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (Boston, MA), and Community United Methodist Church (Byfield, MA). The videotape illustrates the project’s overriding conviction, that religious forms or styles—in this case, its worship and music styles—carry and shape a congregation’s piety, that is, its theology, faith and religious life. <p> Only short segments of the three congregation’s worship experiences, intercut to illustrate and compare their unique liturgical and musical patterns, supply the videotape’s content. No interpretive analysis, either by project researchers or church leaders/members, is included. As the book itself states (p. 10), the video “shows the three congregations performing the same acts of worship in succession—marching into the sanctuary, hearing the sermon, singing hymns, and so forth. The video shows that these same basic practices of the church can mean very different things when executed in different styles.” The videotape and book serve as a resource for congregational, denominational, and seminary leaders to: (1) introduce the idea that a congregation has a culture(s), and that that culture has a particular style; (2) demonstrate that styles carry embedded images of God and of people; and (3) suggest that worship, as a human activity, can both exemplify and obstruct the experience of God.