Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last night, Saint Joseph Catholic Church hosted the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. It rotates three congregations, Temple Beth Israel, Mulberry Street United Methodist Church and Saint Joseph Catholic Church. This tradition has been going on in Macon, Georgia between these three congregations for more than 45 years!

Rabbi Larry Schlesinger preached the message and commented on how novel and controversial these three congregations getting together to pray in the 1960's was. Today that is changed and we take it for granted.

It was a wonderful experience. In the last three years our congregations have decided that the host congregation would plan the prayer service but within their prayer tradition rather than creating something that blends all three traditions in each location.

This has worked out wonderfully, while still trying to be sensitive to interfaith sensibilities. Mulberry Street United Methodist Church worship their way and I preached. Temple Beth Israel worshiped their way and the pastor of Mulberry United Methodist Church preached last year.

This year our liturgy was based upon a modified Sung Vespers. The Rabbi prayed a prayer in Hebrew, the Methodist minister read a reading from the Book of Sirach and our choir chanted the psalms with the congregation singing the antiphons and refrains. The choir sang a Latin version of the Magnificat and incense was used during it.

A wonderful reception was held afterward in our social hall.

We had the most people ever in the past three years. In fact, we ran out of programs! That is a good problem to have. It was a wonderful mix of Catholics, Methodists and other Protestants and Jews.


qwikness said...

Wow, a Methodist minister read a from the Book of Sirach? Did he say anything about it?

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how a Methodist minister felt about reading from Sirach. Thanks for not backing down about what the reading would be in order to be 'sensitive' to him. It was gracious of himto do it,a dn he did it quite well.

However, Why was the name of Jesus totally absent from the Vespers Prayers???


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Methodists would accept it as Apocrypha (Ecclesiasticus)and when the three of us met, there was no objection to the reading from the Rabbi or the Minister as I gave them a copy of it asked them about it.
Keep in mind, we did not read any New Testament readings, and the name of Jesus was not used in any prayer, not even the "Gloria Patri" so for us to pick something of our Old Testament Canon which is our tradition was magnanimous of the others to accept given the limitations of joint prayer.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

By invitation and only annually, we are inviting three groups of believers of the one God to pray together therefore there are limitations to that prayer but we as Catholics have many prayers that simply end in Amen and we believe that all prayer is to the Most Holy Trinity, To the Father, through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit--but that doesn't have to be uttered in every Catholic prayer, i.e. Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, Act of Contrition, Act of Hope and many psalm-prayers associated with the Liturgy of the Hours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification.
yet, I noticed that the Crucifix did not lead the procession, then at the end the prayer was to the Holy Trinity.
Was this an act of ecumenism to skip over a line or two and get straight to the Holy Trinity?

Gene said...

RE: Sirach...I doubt if the Methodist even knew what he was reading. LOL!

Eduardo H. Chagas said...

Protestant ministers actually do study the Deuterocanonicals during Seminary, you know...

All mainliners do, at least. We just don't hold them to have the same authority as the rest of the Holy Scripture.

Seminarian in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil