#MediaLit17 Chronicles 11: Multimedia Liturgy

Anna Drew’s session was invigorating and good fun! Now we move to another Anna, the articulate Anna Norman-Walker with Fr Simon Randall to explore the concept of Multimedia Liturgy.

Anna’s background comes out of a ministry at Exeter Cathedral.

Exeter Cathedral

Anna’s brief was to do education and outreach based from the Cathedral. The cathedral offers well done liturgy in a more choral style which attracts a particular kind of person. Elsewhere in the city there were churches who were doing great things with more non-liturgical, band led worship which were doing well with younger people. However, Anna’s question was how do we make the most of the more contemplative style of worship? Around the same time they were beginning to think around social justice; building a relationship with a small local mosque, doing some work with homeless people, and trying to develop the education and outreach side of things.

When figuring out the audience which they were addressing they looked at culture and found that these characteristics seemed to encapsulate what they encountered:

  • Experiential — even if we would rather avoid making everything about feelings, we can’t deny the reality of the fullness of our experience. SO when preparing the service they wanted to create an element of flexibility which would prompt people to wonder, positively, ‘what am I in for tonight?’
  • Multi-sensory — Things like flower tributes at the spot of accidents is a relatively new phenomenon, which Diana was a catalyst for. People like to do something tangible. Exeter Cathedral, even as a relatively small one, raises about £22,000 in donations each year in the voluntary donation boxes by tea lights. People find lighting candles incredibly helpful, it enables people to ‘flirt’ with prayer (my word, not Anna’s) if they’re not comfortable with praying or it can lead people into a moment of spiritual significance.
  • Suspicious — People can be wary of things which seem ‘religious’.
  • Global — Didn’t want to be naval gazing but rather to have the same kind of global perspective which is easier than ever to have given our usage of the internet and so on.
  • Networked — Many people would visit the website before they attended the building in person.
  • Vulnerable — they recognise how, particularly millennials, can be unsure of their futures. One person said ‘We know where we come from, but we don’t know where we’re going’. It is this same principle which seems to underlie the strong support Corbyn received from young people.

There was some helpful exploration surrounding the importance of ownership of worship initiatives; mission statements and principles should arise from communities rather than being imposed on them.

Out of this came a description of the Holy Ground worship space at Exeter Cathedral. Worth checking the website out to learn more.

Anna shared a story about a service where they used a video game within worship which enabled people to control the visuals on the screen as part of a reflection on the Holy Spirit going where he will, just as the wind blows where it will.

This Holy Ground initiative grew to the point where Holy Ground became people’s main form of church and so after a while they now do a service called Sunday at 7, where roughly 50 attend and 30 join for the pub after.

An inspiring session!

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