Training of Trainers (TOTs) workshop on Worship and Liturgy to equip the clergy on ‘missional congregations’ was conducted by the Department of Pastoral Concerns at CSI Eco Spirituality Centre, Othara, Kerala from 11-13 April 2018, in partnership with the Council for World Mission. About 40 participants from various dioceses have come together to learn the importance and newer nuances to make worship and liturgy more relevant and participatory. Worship that facilitates the encounter between human and divine, enables the human to express their devotion to God and experience the transformatory power is a powerful tool. Similarly, the liturgy that integrates the human experiences, aspirations, lament and thanksgiving is a pedagogical tool that equips the worshippers to face the realities of life. These components were clearly explicated by Most Rev. Dr. Thomas K Oommen, the Moderator, CSI, Rev. Dr. Alfred Stephen, Rev. Dr. Jameson, Rev. Dr.T.I. James, Dr. Mrs. Susan Thomas and Dr. Simon John. Biblical and theological understanding of worship and liturgy, the language and symbols, sacraments, confession and intercessions, historical development of the liturgy and so on were discussed in the workshop.
The inaugural session was led by Rev. K. James Cecil Victor, Director, Pastoral Concerns. Dr. Mathew Koshy, Director, CSI Department of Ecological Concerns and Rev. Viju Varkey, Pastoral Board Secretary, Madhya Kerala Diocese have shared their greetings. In his inaugural address the Moderator recalled that the liturgy starts after the worship for liturgy calls for a response. He emphasised that the congregations can become missional if they practice what they experience in the worship. Dr. Simon John, the Lay Secretary of Madhya Kerala Diocese and a development activist has shared in the key note address that ‘the purpose of religion is to find purpose, meaning and significance in life. Whereas worship sustains our faith, connects the worshipper with God and human while liturgy is the communication of our feelings ad experiences’. Rev. Dr. Alfred Stephen, professor in Homiletics at TTS, Madurai led sessions on liturgical expressions of missional congregation, missiological confessions and intercessions, sacraments and mission in the Church of South India. Rev. Dr. Jameson, an ordained minister of the Mar Thoma Church and a liturgist, lead sessions on biblical and theological understanding of worship and liturgy, and effective use of the liturgical language ad symbols. Dr. Alfred and Dr. Jameson have brought out the salient features in liturgy that expresses the theology of the church, experiences of people and expression of our faith. Rev. Dr. T. I. James, the former director of Pastoral Concerns narrated the historical evolution of liturgy through the decades. He has succinctly pointed out various changes that have taken place in CSI liturgy and explained the liturgical calendar and colours. Dr. Susan Thomas, the Women’s Fellowship President of CSI has shared her views on worship, language and understanding of God construed by our culture and context.
The participants had a time to interact, discuss in groups and perform creative liturgies based on the presentations in the workshop. Participants have expressed their gratitude to the synod officers and the department of Pastoral Concerns for conceiving and implementing this workshop. Feedback suggests that they have learnt new nuances and pedagogical elements in worship and liturgy.
Rev. James Cecil Victor
Director, Pastoral Concerns