St. Paul and the Redeemer is a neighborhood church with a metropolitan congregation, a lively worshipping community led, and perhaps populated by, a majority of people who live mostly in their heads (e.g., introverts, academics). The congregation is integrated, with a sizable percentage of African-American members. Our liturgy is flexible yet traditional, inclusive of all generations; all of our furniture is moveable. Music is the element of worship most likely to represent the diversity in our chairs and in the world outside, but our staff, all of whom are white, are sometimes forced to guess at authentic practice of other traditions and perspectives.
Project: Gathering Members, Knitting Parts Together, Reaching out to Neighbors
The Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer (SPR) proposes a two-year series of three events per year in conjunction with our celebration of All Saints’ (November), “Shrove Sunday” (Last Sunday after Epiphany), andnd Pentecost (May/June), that will bring parishioners; visiting musicians, liturgists, and artists; and neighbors together in a multifaceted cultural and liturgical celebration around a chosen theme.
Beginning about 15 years ago, SPR began offering choral masses on ALl Saints’ and Pentecost, the former featuring a classical mass like Faure’s Requiem or Schubert’s Mass in G, the latter drawing on world music. Through more than one rector and multiple music directors, these traditions have supported and enlivened the community.
In 2013, the people of SPR in Chicago welcomed the Magnolia Singers, a vocal quintet who perform and promote the music and culture of the Gullah communities of Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia, for a weekend-long celebration of their language (musical and spoken), culture, and beliefs. For weeks beforehand, and from Saturday through Monday of Pentecost weekend, visiting musicians, church members, and neighbors came together to prepare, promote, perform, celebrate, sing, dance, worship, meet, connect, learn, teach, and delight.
The SPR community embraced our visiting musicians. They were drawn together in a joyful, musical celebration. And then they went out to our neighboring elementary school to share the joys, struggles, and wisdom of the Gullah people. We continue to consider ways to keep the relationship alive. our project proposal is to formalize and repeat the festival surrounding the Magnolia Singers’ performances, with a different theme each time.
4945 S Dorchester Ave
Peter C. Lane, Rector
Christian M. Clough, Director of Music
Rachel Watson, lay leader