Rituals of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968)   8 comments

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Above:  Otterbein United Brethren Church, Baltimore, Maryland, July 1936

Photograph by E. H. Pickering

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS MD,4-BALT,54–4

In 2013 this is Old Otterbein United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

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Hoyt L. Hickman, writing of increasing levels of formality among U.S. Methodists (particularly the forebears of The United Methodist Church), wrote:

A few Methodist choirs had begun to vest as early as the 1890s, and by the mid-twentieth century one could expect to find vested choirs in medium-sized and larger congregations.  Black clergy robes were already appearing in Methodist services in the 1920s and became commonplace by the 195os.  By the 1950s and 60s a stole in the seasonal color might be worn with the robe, and the robe might be white in the summer.

Worshiping with United Methodists:  A Guide for Pastors and Church Leaders (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1996, page 59)

George Washington Barrett (1873-1956), one of my great-grandfathers, was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (extant 1845-1939), then of The Methodist Church, into which his original denomination merged.  He had no use for what he described as “externals”, such as

emphasizing…the manner of religious ceremony.

He was a product of his time and subculture, having become clergy in the North Georgia Conference in 1899.  (http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/spiritual-religion-and-ritualism/ and http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/family-tree-of-george-washington-barrett/)

The United Methodist Church (1968-) is the result of the merger of two denominations with roots in 1700s America.  The Methodist Church (1939-1968) was immediate successor of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and two of its offshoots, with which it reunited.  Hoyt L. Hickman, in the portion of his book which I quoted, described liturgical and ritualistic developments on that side of the denominational family tree.  I would be surprised if the other side of the family tree advanced faster.  That other side of the denominational family tree was The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) (abbreviated as E.U.B.), the combination of the former Church of the United Brethren in Christ (1816-1946) and the Evangelical Church (1922-1946).  The latter body formed by means of the reunion of the Evangelical Association (1800-1922) and the United Evangelical Church (1894-1922).

The Order of Worship from the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945) provided for one reading of Scripture, as did the “Aids to Worship” section of The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935).  Yet the Order of Worship from the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) provided for readings from the Bible, specifically,

…one from the Old Testament, and one from the Epistles or Gospels.”

–page 5

The Hymnal of The Evangelical Brethren Church (1957) contained two orders of worship.  The second (page 10) provided for “Reading of the Scriptures,” and the first (page 9) specified an Epistle reading and a Gospel reading.

Of Communion rituals I have slightly less information than I prefer.  The Evangelical Hymnal (1921) contained no such ritual.  Mainly it offered hymns, indices, and responsive readings.  But The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935) contained two versions of “An Order for Service for the Holy Communion,” both based on and reduced greatly from The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and

revised in accordance with the usage of non-liturgical churches and adapted to meet the needs of our own Communion.

–page 418

“The Ritual of the Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper,” from the E.U.B. Hymnal (1957), came also from the 1662 Prayer Book, with reductions and other modifications.  The E.U.B. Book of Ritual (1952, 1955, and 1959) contained two Communion rituals.  The Longer Form was the one printed in The Hymnal (1957).  The Briefer form was reduced from the Longer Form.  The 1950s Briefer Form was different from the 1935 abbreviated rite.

The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935) contained a section entitled “Aids to Worship.”  There were Orders of Service, occasional services (such as confirmation and baptism), responsive readings (from the Bible), “Responsive Hymn Services” (which used hymn verses in lieu of responsive readings), and litanies for opening and for closing worship.

Likewise the E.U.B. Hymnal (1957) contained an “Aids to Worship” section, which, the book said,

…may be supplemented by the rich resources, ancient and modern, which are available in the Bible and in other books of worship.

–page not numbered

In this section were calls to worship, invocations, offertory sentences, suggested Bible readings specified by topic, the Decalogue, Old Testament Beatitudes (from various Psalms), New Testament Beatitudes (from Matthew 5:3-12, Revised Standard Version), and responsive readings (from the Bible).

The Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1952, 1955, and 1959) was a separately bound portion of the denominational Discipline.  All editions of The Book of Ritual contained the following rites:

  • Baptism of Infants;
  • Baptism of Adults;
  • Dedication of Infants (in lieu of Baptism of Infants);
  • Holy Communion (the Longer Form and the Briefer Form);
  • Reception of Members;
  • Holy Matrimony (with identical vows for the bride and the groom);
  • Burial of the Dead (a Christian form and a General form);
  • Ordination of Elders;
  • Breaking Ground;
  • Laying a Cornerstone;
  • Dedication of a Church;
  • Rededication of a Church;
  • Dedication of an Educational Building;
  • Dedication of an Organ;
  • Dedication of a Home;
  • Dedication of a Parsonage;
  • Mortgage or Note Burning;
  • Installation of a Conference Superintendent;
  • Installation of General Church Officials;
  • Installation of a Bishop; and
  • Retirement of Elders.

The 1955 Book of Ritual added a separate rite for receiving children as members and dropped the General Installation service from 1952.

The 1959 Book of Ritual replaced the 1952 rite for the Commissioning of Missionaries with a new ritual for the Recognition of Missionary Commitment.

As The Book of Ritual (1952) said,

Divine worship is the inestimable privilege of man who, in the presence of Deity, bows in humility and adoration.  Worship in its deepest and purest sense is the response of the human to the Divine.  The object of a worship service is to lead souls to an act of pure adoration and self-dedication.  A profound and wide-spread desire for enriched worship services marks the age in which we are living.

The true object of worship ever lies beyond the full comprehension of man; therefore he bridges that gap by the use of symbol and ritual.  Great liturgies are of slow growth, and are the product of an ever-enlarging spiritual experience.  They gather up that which has been the most helpful and noble in the faith and devotion of the ages.  The church has a rich literature of worship, which is stimulating and uplifting, and by its use, worship is given concrete expression.

The ultimate value of rituals and formulas depends largely upon the devotional spirit of the Minister in the leadership of worship.  Orderliness in procedure commends itself to all who understand the meaning of true worship….

Now, of course, The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) (abbreviated as UMBOW) is the official collection of United Methodist liturgies, some duplicated from The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).  Both volumes contain the following, “A Service of Word and Table IV,” which borrows from Methodist and E.U.B. service books.  The Hymnal (1989) contains the former Methodist and E.U.B. versions of the Lord’s Prayer (identical except for some punctuation and the debts vs. trespasses issue).  The UMBOW (1992) offers the following:

  • The Baptismal Covenant II-B (for children and based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites),
  • The Baptismal Covenant III (for adults and based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites), and
  • A Service of Christian Marriage II (based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites).

The Hymnal (1989) also contains The Baptismal Covenant III and offers the following:

  • The Congregational Pledge 1 (for use with the former E.U.B. rite) and
  • The Congregational Pledge 2 (for use with the former Methodist rite).

Both of these are for use with The Baptismal Covenant II.  The UMBOW (1992) contains not only the text of The Baptismal Covenant II but The Baptismal Covenant II-A and The Baptismal Covenant II-B, the latter two of which are briefer than the former.  II-A in The UMBOW (1992) incorporates The Congregational Pledge 2 and II-B features The Congregational Pledge II-A.  But the Hymnal (1989), for the sake of  simplicity, has simply The Baptismal Covenant II, followed by the two options for The Congregational Pledge.  The wording of both Congregational pledges changed slightly between the Hymnal (1989) and The UMBOW (1992), but with no theological importance I can discern.

There is no rite for the Dedication of Infants anywhere in The UMBOW (1992).  Neither was there one in the 1945 or the 1965 Book of Worship for Church and Home.

The Evangelical United Brethren Church offered a Book of Ritual with a narrower range of options than the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home.  Yet the 1957 E.U.B. Hymnal, with its worship aids, compensated somewhat for that fact.  A review of E.U.B. Church rituals reveals a growing sense of the importance of more congregational involvement in worship as the twentieth century progressed.  That was already evident in The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935).  The E.U.B. Church, for a “non-liturgical” denomination, seemed, officially at least, aware of the need for more ritual as they approached union with the Methodists, their ecclesiastical cousins.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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