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Free Church Prayer Books?!

Chris Schelin of Mere Faith reviews a couple of prayer books rooted in the free-church tradition. I didn’t know of the existence of either of these, but they’ll be on my ever-growing Amazon wish list soon enough:

Gathering for Worship: Patterns and Prayers for the Community of Disciples (published by the Baptist Union of Great Britain and reviewed here)

Take Our Moments and Our Days: An Anabaptist Prayer Book, Ordinary Time (a second volume for Advent–Pentecost is in the works; the first volume is reviewed here)

Based on the reviews, I’d say both volumes do what I have long thought possible: educate free-church folk about the wealth of devotional resources available in the more liturgically minded churches and the possibility for creative appropriation of this material while remaining true to one’s free-church convictions.

I was first challenged with this line of thinking in Dr. E. Glenn Hinson’s “Prayer in Christian History” class, where he invited us to read his paper, “Southern Baptist and Medieval Spirituality: Surprising Similarities” (Cistercian Studies 20/3 [1985] 224-36). This eye-opener compares medieval contemplative spirituality to that which is found in Baptist hymnals. Hinson begins:

The spirituality of Southern Baptists, strange as it may seem, mirrors medieval spirituality. Language differences aside, many Southern Baptists would have felt right at home in the company of Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, John Tauler, Henry Suso, Jan van Ruysbroeck, Catherine of Siena, and a host of other contemplatives. “Being born again,” conversion, “simple faith,” “the warm heart,” following Jesus, trusting and obeying, witnessing for Jesus, prayer in the Spirit, love, joy, peace, Jesus’ powerful name, laboring for the Lord‚Äîall are common themes, a remote inheritance of Baptists from the Middle ages, their rejection of medieval spirituality in the seventeenth century notwithstanding.

It’s a great read, although not available online as far as I can tell. But those two prayer books are so going on my wish list!


7 Comments

  1. Chris S says:

    I tell you what, it’s convenient to receive a book stipend as a staff minister! (grin)

    BTW, in the near future I’ll try to send you some Georgian Baptist stuff I’ve come across.

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  2. D. P. says:

    Yes, I miss the days of ministerial book stipends. :-( And I look forward to what you can tell me about those Baptists in (the other) Georgia!

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  3. Josh H says:

    Schelin and Pursiful connected? This is surely a small world…

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  4. SingingOwl says:

    I have to tell you that I thought of you when I visited the book store of the Episcopalian Seminary that I blogged about back when I was on sabbatical. I purchased a Book of Common Prayer. Who would have thought it possible? Well, once upon a time it would have been completely unbelievable…ME buying a prayer book? :-)

    I’ll check these out.

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  5. D. P. says:

    Just don’t get them before I do or I’ll feel left out ;-)

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  6. Chris S says:

    Darrell,

    Until you decide you have the funds to order a leather-bound copy of Take our Moments, a PDF of the whole thing is available for review at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary web site. They also have a draft copy of volume 2 free for download and, as was the case with the 1st one, they invite feedback as they finish it up.

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  7. D. P. says:

    Thanks, Chris! I’ve got them downloaded. :-)

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