8th assembly/50th anniversary

Worship at the Eighth Assembly

On the surface, the Assembly theme, "Turn to God - Rejoice in Hope" would seem to imply worship services that were either depressingly penitential or wildly celebratory. It would have been easy to emphasize one side of the theme or the other without keeping the two parts connected and interlinked.

The central symbol of the Christian faith, the cross, becomes the place where both turning and rejoicing are held together. Throughout all Assembly worship services, the cross -- in this case a large wooden cross carved by David Mutasa from Harare -- stood at the centre and guided our prayer. The services during our time together took us through the theme in three stages:
  1. the God to whom we turn,
  2. turning to God,
  3. rejoicing in hope.
The opening worship and the first services explored the gracious God who calls us to turn. The Sunday night vigil was a pilgrimage of turning, guided by the passion narrative of the gospel of Mark. This culminated in an Orthodox resurrection matins on Monday morning. The daily services continued to guide our turning towards a service of preparation for communion, a service of penitence for our inability to eat together at the Lord's table. On Sunday morning, 13 December assembly participants divided for eucharistic services - a strong reminder of how far we have yet to travel. However, we gathered together again that afternoon to celebrate what has been accomplished and to pledge recommitment to stay together until the journey is complete.

Wooden cross carved
by David Mutasa from Harare.

Most morning services were followed immediately by Bible study and discussion. The groups provided an opportunity, in a smaller and more comfortable setting, to explore the biblical readings, themes and images from the daily worship, and to reflect on the programmatic aspects of the assembly.

On most days there were two choices for evening worship. One choice was quiet and repetitive with space for the congregation to voice their own prayers. The other followed a freer pattern of prayer and singing to end the day.

Click to the following for more information

Pre-assembly reflections from the Worship Committee

Order of service for the Opening Worship
Opening Worship Sermon
(3 December 1998)

Order of worship for the Vigil Service
(6 December 1998)

A sample of Morning Worship and Bible Study
(8 December 1998)

Order of worship for the Recommitment Service
(13 December 1998)

Order of service for the Closing Worship
Closing Worship Sermon
(14 December 1998)

Worship-related stories and press releases

Photos from Opening Worship

Press release: World Coucil of Churches meet at foot of Africa's cross

From e-jubilee: They went on a visit

Press release: Praise and pomp at Zimbabwean churches celebration

From e-jubilee: Harare liturgy marks growth of Orthodox church in Africa

Press release: WCC worshippers revel in Zimbabwe's raindbow of worship

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© 1999 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor