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Resources for Going Deeper in Worship

Often people who are responsible for weaving together each Sunday's worship service are so focused on what they are going to do that there is not much time to ask why—why do we do the things we do? Why do we do them the way we do them? (Why can't we try something different?) The resources listed here are all aids to congregational worship committees and worship leaders who want to go deeper than just wondering what to do this next coming Sunday. (And they're all available in our own Unitarian Universalist Association Bookstore!)

Worship That Works: Theory and Practice for Unitarian Universalists, by Wayne Arnason and Kathleen Rolenz is an exciting addition to the literature on worship. Written by Unitarian Universalists for Unitarian Universalists (UUs) it's a book that completely understands UU worship culture, yet which draws on movements in the wider worshipping world. The titles of it's three main sections—Visions and Challenges, Qualities of Transformative Worship, and Practical Details—give you a clear indication of the scope of this work. This book is a "must-have" for everyone involved in worship leadership.

The Worship Workshop: Creative Ways to Design Worship by Marcia McFee is a creative workbook version of her extremely popular workshops on modern worship theory. Written from a liberal Christian perspective, there will need to be some "translation" for some of our congregations, yet the theory is sound and the exercises helpful. This could be a wonderful resources for a lay worship committee that wants to deepen its understanding of why it does what it does and how it might do some things differently.

Come Into the Circle: Worshiping with Children, by Michelle Richards is a comprehensive how-to guide for creating meaningful religious experiences for children. The contents include suggestions on the form, style and elements of worship, plus an extensive collection of opening words and chalice lightings, meditations and prayers, stories, songs, sermons, and even complete orders of service to help you get started planning your worship

Sunday Meditations: For Liberal Religious Worship, is the newest book by the prolific minister and author Peter Tufts Richardson. A collection of prayers and meditations, with his own spectacular photography, this book can serve as a resource for your own personal meditation or as a source of inspiration for worship.

Been in the Storm So Long, edited by Mark Morrison-Reed and Jacqui James, was first published in 199. This stirring volume features more than 40 selections from the spirited voices of 29 African-Americans. Contributors include David H. Eaton, Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, Rosemary Bray McNatt, Thandeka, Egbert Etherlred Brown and more.

Singing Meditation: Together in Sound and Silence, by Ruthie Rosauer and Liz Hill, introduces the spiritual practice of singing meditation, which combines repetitive singing of short, simple, interfaith songs with periods of undirected silence. Suitable for beginners as well as experienced singers, singing meditation uses the power of song to connect the heart and mind.

Thematic Preaching, by Jane Rzepka and Ken Sawyer, is a fantastic introduction to the art of preaching, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, "life passed through the fire of thought." Exploring "The Art and Craft of Preaching," "Preaching as Ministry," and three thorny "Issues in Preaching," it's all in here from ministers who have lived it and taught it.

Rejoice Together: Prayers, Meditations and Other Readings for Family, Individual and Small-Group Worship, Second Edition, edited by Helen Pickett, includes opening words, chalice lightings, prayers, table graces, devotions, meditations and more, culled from traditional and modern sources. Expanded and updated, this new edition includes more than 50 added selections, primarily from contemporary UU sources. Designed to help laypersons plan and conduct simple worship services or special ceremonies in families and small-group settings.

A Manual of Worship: Insights from Over 50 Years as a Unitarian Universalist Minister, by Frank Schulman (edited by Terry Sweetser), is an essential resource for any UU minister or anyone seeking a deeper understanding of UU worship, A Manual of Worship discusses the theoretical and practical elements of worship services. This book was written to fulfill a need often articulated by Unitarian Universalist ministers and laypersons—to help create more spiritually meaningful, well-structured worship services.

Daybreak and Eventide: A Little Book of Prayers and Worship for Individuals, Small Groups and House Churches, by John C. Morgan, and Andrew J. Brown. For those who are seeking truly Christian Unitarian Universalist devotional materials—materials that are uncompromisingly on The Way of Jesus yet are infused with the spirit of Unitarianism and Universalism—this book may be what you have been looking for. Powerful for personal devotions, it could also be used as worship materials for small groups within in a congregation.

Ideas for Worship: Video Workshop: Spiritually Vital and Alive. This DVD comes from the first Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Conference on Contemporary Worship and includes highlights from workshops, the keynote address by Marcia McFee, and from the conference worship services. If you take in information audio-visually more easily than through reading, this may well be a resource you need.

The Seven Principles in Word and Worship, edited by Ellen Brandenburg, presents fresh perspectives from seven ministers who joined the ministry after the Principles took their current form. Here are essays, prayers, chalice lightings, litanies, meditations and worship readings on each Principle-helping us reflect on their significance and the ways they call us to ethical action and deeper spirituality

Singing the Living Tradition more than the primary hymnal of our Association, Singing the Living Tradition also contains a large collection of readings. Some congregations have found that the essential elements for their worship are found in this one volume.

Between the Lines: Sources for Singing the Living Tradition, edited by Jacqui James, provides information on the background of the songs and readings, as well as the authors and composers, of the materials found in Singing the Living Tradition. An extremely valuable resource to help contextualize what we sing and say in worship.

Singing the Journey is the supplement to our hymnal that is becoming a fast favorite. Filled with seventy five songs in a variety of styles, representing different cultures, this book is stretching some of our congregations and demonstrating how far others have grown.

For more information contact worshipweb @

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Last updated on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.

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