UNDERSTANDING THE ORDER OF WORSHIP
Processional Hymn- This is symbolic of the approach of God’s children into God’s Presence. The song should be both jubilant and seasonal. The procession should begin at the singing of the second verse of the hymn. (The congregation stands)
Call to Worship- A scriptural admonition to call attention the purpose of our gathering. (The congregation stands)
The words of the Doxology are:Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below: Praise Him above, ye heavenly host: Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Invocation with Choral Response- (The congregation is asked to sit before this prayer) - calling on the Divine during this time of worship and praise.
Hymn of Praise- (Congregation is asked to stand)- This is actually the first hymn of worship. It expresses thanks to God. This hymn should be lively, ascribing glory and praise to God.
Responsive Reading- This reading alternates between the worship leader and the people with the last part said in unison. This is an act of praise reminiscent of the antiphon used by the early church. (The congregation stands)
Gloria Patri- This is the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments and expresses our belief in the unity of the Holy Writ. It is also a salute to the Trinity. It is an act of fervent praise, not a prayer. It is sung immediately following the Responsive Reading. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; world without end. Amen
The Affirmation of Faith- The Apostles=Creed. This is a summary of the questions asked of new Christians in the early church and is what we believe. It is a confession of faith and not a prayer. (The congregation stands during the Affirmation of Faith)
Choral Selection/Anthem The music ministry of the church renders musical offerings as a part of the worship experience. In those churches which specialize in Anthem choral singing, this is the place where they usually sing. An anthem is scriptural text put to music.
Scripture Lesson- Reading(s) from the Holy Bible. Often one of the passages read includes the text for the sermon. Members are encouraged to bring their own Bibles or to use the ones found in the pews to read along with the one reading the lesson. Note: In the A.M.E. Zion Church, we sit during the reading of the Scripture Lesson(s).
Morning Prayer or Pastoral Prayer- Members who desire to do so should come to the Chancel Rail. Those who remain seated should have their heads bowed. The prayer is prayed to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Notices- The Church Clerk reads pertinent information from the church bulletin and correspondence received from other churches or groups. (Notices should be reviewed by the pastor so that the Clerk does not have to read unnecessary or inappropriate notices).
Greetings and Welcome- The congregation is greeted, special notices may be highlighted and visitors are welcomed.
Our Gifts to God- Giving is an indispensable part of our worship.
Ministry of Kindness- This offering is the taken for the relief of those in need among the congregation and for those who may come to the church seeking aide.
Tithes and Offerings- The Bible instructs us that we are to give back to God a portion of what He has blessed us with. A tithe is one-tenth of what we have earned. An Offering is any giving above what we are required to give by God. One way to remember the difference between tithes and offerings is to remember this phrase,“A tithe is what we owe, and offering is what we sow.”
The Offertory- This prayer is sung by the congregation standing as the offering plates are presented to God. Common offertories used in the A.M.E. Zion Church include:
#706 All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee. Amen.
#707 We give Thee but Thine own, Whate’er the gift may be; All that we have is Thine alone, A trust, O Lord, from Thee. Amen.
#708 Bless Thou the gifts our hands have brought; Bless Thou the work our hearts have planned; Ours is the faith, the will, the thought; The rest, O God, is in Thy hand. Amen
Choral Selection or Hymn of Preparation- The congregation is made ready for the sermon through the music ministry. If a hymn of preparation is used, the congregation remains seated while the hymn is sung. Only the choir stands and sings this hymn. It is customary that the preacher mounts the pulpit during the singing of the last stanza of the hymn of preparation.
The Sermon- This is the declared WORD from GOD. It must be remembered that this is a message, not from a mere mortal, but from a Holy God, to His people through His chosen vessel.
The Invitational Hymn- This hymn follows the sermon to set in motion the call to those outside the church, to come forward, expressing their desire to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and/or to unite with the household of faith.
The Invitation to Christian Discipleship- An invitation to offer our lives to God or to renew our commitment to kingdom building. This is traditionally called “opening the doors of the church.” This is also the time when those wishing to become members of the local congregation may make their desire known.
Recessional- The choir and clergy recess from the Chancel area, usually to the rear of the church.
Benediction- This is a scriptural blessing for which the people received seated. Common benedictions used are:
2 Corinthians 13:14
Note: In many churches a choral “Amen” may be sung.
Postlude- The congregation is seated in devout meditation while the musician(s) play(s) appropriate music.
ADDITIONAL WORSHIP NOTES:
The Worship experience in the A.M.E. Zion Church is a blending of the liturgical and free church worship found in Christianity. Liturgical elements include those things such as lighting of the candles by the acolytes, the wearing of clerical garb by the clergy, the singing of the Gloria Patri and other choral responses at various part of the service. The Free elements of worship allow for extemporaneous prayer, spirited singing and praise. You will find that among A.M.E. Zion Churches a wide range of worshiping styles ranging from the highly liturgical to a predominantly free style of worship. (Free worship does not mean disorganize. God is not a God of confusion but of order). Despite variations in worship styles A.M.E. Zion Churches are identifiable by the use of these above-listed elements in their order of worship.
The use of candles represent the presence of God in the worship experience. The acolytes bring in the lighted torchiers symbolic of God's presence going coming into the midst of the people during the processional and lead the recessional demonstrating God's presence going out before the people.
Live flowers are placed on the altar symbolic of life.
As Methodists we believe that the sermon is the high point of the sermon superceded only by the Holy Communion when it is served as on the first Sunday. The proper way of receiving communion is to come to the Chancel rail and wait to be told to kneel together. (We enjoy the communion meal together as a family) We receive the bread with our right hand placed across our left in the manner of a cross. Likewise, we receive the cup with our right hand cupped and resting in our left hand. We rise together after receiving both elements of the communion and return to our seats.
At Naomi Temple we use grape juice instead of wine for reasons such as the historical Methodist emphasis on temperance and out of concern for the well-being of those who partake of communion.
BAPTISM- Baptism is the only other sacrament besides Holy Communion in the A.M.E. Zion Church. As Methodists we practice infant as well as adult baptism. We do not christen, we baptize. We believe that children are welcomed by God as part of the covenant community and the baptism represents that initiation into that community, it is also symbolic dying and rising with Christ. Infant baptism is forward looking and puts responsibility for the Christian rearing of the child on the parents, godparents, and assembled congregation. We baptize in one of three modes: sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. The mode is determined by one to be baptized. However, our emphasis is not on the amount of water used but truly the baptism by the Holy Spirit of which the water is only symbolic. If one has been baptized as an infant or youth, they should not to seek to be rebaptized. This is a declaration of denial of God's efficacy to act when one was first baptized. The Methodist emphasis in baptism is one what God has done for us through Christ, not what we are doing. For those who have been baptized in other evangelical Christian traditions and seek to join our church we recognize your previous baptism and there is no need to be baptized again. We are baptized into the Body of Christ, not into a local church.
LITURGICAL COLORS- You will notice that colors of the paraments on the altar table and pulpit change at different times of the year. These color correspond to the Liturgical Calendar which has various seasons beginning with Advent and ending with Kingdomtide. The seasons and colors are:
Advent Purple or Blue
CLERGY- The A.M.E. Zion Church is a hierarchical church and therefore has ranks of clergy. While there are different ranks of clergy there are only two orders among ordained clergy. The two order are:
Deacon:A deacon in the A.M.E. Zion Church is an ordained minister. He/she can perform marriages, baptize, and distribute the elements of Holy Communion after they have been consecrated by an ordained elder. He/she is referred to as Rev. ---------- not Deacon ----------
Elder: Elder is the highest order in the A.M.E. Zion Church. He/she is able to perform all of the functions of a deacon as well as consecrate the elements of the Holy Communion, consecrate deaconesses, enjoy certain other organizational responsibilities reserved for elders. He/she is referred to as Rev. ---------- not Elder ----------
The ranks of clergy are:
Local Preacher:A local preacher is an unordained minister of the gospel. He/she is under the guidance of a pastor. A local preacher cannot administer the sacraments . A local preacher is not entitled to wear a clerical color neither is he/she permitted to wear a stole or velvet panels on his/her robe. These are reserved for ordained clergy. In our polity, our unordained clergy is properly referred to as Bro.---------- or Sis. ---------------. To call someone Minster ------------- is not a part of our Methodist tradition.
Supernumerary Preachers- These are minister, ordained and not who are not given pastoral appointments. They often serve as assistants in local churches or they may be involved in non-parish settings such as military, hospital, or prison chaplaincies. If ordained they are referred to Rev.--------------. If not Bro. or Sis.--------------.
Pastor - He/she has been assigned by the Bishop to lead an individual congregation. The Pastor has spiritual and administrative oversight of a local congregation. The Pastor is referred to as either Rev.----------------, Pastor ------------- or Dr.---------------, if holding such a degree.
Presiding Elder- The Presiding Elder is the Bishop=s deputy appointed to have oversight of a given number of churches within the bounds of a Conference. The Presiding Elder conducts the Quarterly Conference at each local church on his/her district to hear the report of the operation of the local church. The Presiding Elder is addressed as Presiding Elder-----------, Rev.-----------------, Dr.-----------(if he/she has such a degree), and sometimes simply Elder -----------.
Bishop- The Bishop is an ordained elder who has been elected by the 2/3 General Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church, having obtained at least 40 years of age and traveling within the church for 20 years.
WEDDINGS- A wedding is more than a mere ceremony. The solemnization of a wedding is a formal asking of God to be the Third Party in the covenant relationship that is being established between a man and woman. We do not perform same-sex weddings, unions or blessings. We believe that such as contrary to God's will and are therefore uncompromising in our theological position!
FUNERALS- Funerals are not for the dead, but for the living. The emphasis of Methodist preaching at funerals is the resurrection hope we have through Christ Jesus. We discourage final viewing at the end of a funeral service because it undoes the comforting and strengthening of the family and assembled community that is the aim of the funeral service.