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Archive for the ‘worship’ tag

From Steeples to Domes, Architecture Reflects Religious Diversity

Photo Credit to John Gillis from The Daily News Journal

The pinnacle of Shri Krishna Pranami Mission Hindu Temple in Christiana.

from The Daily News Journal
by Scott Broden and Doug Davis

Religious architecture is all about helping believers worship.

Whether it comes to church bell towers, steeples and crosses or mosque minarets and domes, the designs are ways for the congregation to keep the faith. The Daily News Journal recently visited a number of these houses of worship throughout Rutherford County to learn how architecture plays a role in their religion.

Located in rural Christiana, the 12,799-square-foot Hindu Shri Krishna Pranami temple completed in 2009 is, on the surface, a stark contrast to the traditional homes and farms that make up this tight-knit community. But it’s that rural quality, that “incredible natural beauty” that made the community an ideal fit for the temple and its followers, according to Vippin Aggarwal, speaking on behalf of Temple President Hasmukhbhai Savalia.

Experiencing the Sacred within Secular Music

Charles Howard
from Huffington Post

Professor Kirk Byron Jones messed me up. In a good way. His Jazz of Preaching class that I so joyfully attended during my second year of seminary at Andover Newton, was a symphony of holy mischief with each class session simultaneously graying and clarifying where the believer may encounter the Presence of God. Back then there was much talk in seminaries and divinity schools about “border crossing” and that is exactly where this course was taught – at the closely watched and fiercely guarded border between the sacred and the secular. And that’s a dangerous place to be. The few who dare step over the clearly delineated lines are either labeled as groundbreaking ambassadors or lost, wandering ex-pat heretics.

Jones invited students to not only visit the border between what is also called the holy and the profane, he invited us to dance on the border and encourage trade between the two warring nations.

We listened to Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson’sCome Sunday, which I can’t hear without tearing up. We raised our hands in praise when we played Coltrane’s divine utterance A Love Supreme in which he says with perfect articulation through his saxophone, “It all has to do with it…” We praised, we wept, we paused, we danced and we shouted with artist after artist.

As a preaching class, the lessons on improvisation while preaching, blues preaching, harmony, call and response and the myriad of applicable metaphors are still notions that I draw from when I am given the honor of entering the pulpit. Jones wrote them up in his wonderful book by the same title The Jazz of Preaching. But there was a deeper lesson that I walked away with: The border between the sacred and the secular is not as firm as it may seem.

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Sacred music in Manchester: beyond belief

by Riazat Butt for the Guardian

In the back room of a Manchester church, a woman fishes a stereo and some CDs out of a carrier bag . As the evening sun streams through the frosted windows, choir leader Jacqui Allen calls to order the dozen people exchanging small talk around her. Then something extraordinary happens. The choir sings gospel songs such as Face to Face and Joyous in a way that makes the spine tingle, the heart soar and the tummy flip. The same thing happens at its rehearsals every week, but this one is different. The choir of the New Testament Church of God is preparing for its biggest appearance to date – alongside US gospel singer Candi Staton – for the Sacred Sites arm of the festival, which puts international performers in places of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim worship across the city. “I feel very privileged, motivated and encouraged to know the festival is not an in-house event,” says Diane Plummer, a choir member since its inception five years ago. “It will bring the community into a place they don’t normally go.” Fellow singer and parishioner Cory Bernard says the choir has “never done anything like this before. I don’t know what people expect. There are lots of stereotypes about gospel choirs. I think they will hear passion and something different.” The church noticeboard testifies to the event’s popularity, with three pages’ worth of congregants requesting tickets for friends and family.

Staton says that the difference between playing a concert and singing in a church comes down to the atmosphere. “When people come to church, it’s about praise, worship and reverence,” she says down the phone from Atlanta, where she is rehearsing with her band, which is joining her in Manchester. “When people come to a concert, they come to party. For me, I’ve done the secular and sacred. But I am very excited about being part of this.” Staton began her career in the 50s with the Jewel Gospel Trio. She gained mainstream success in the 70s, then returned to her gospel roots in 1982. While the audience at the New Testament Church of God won’t hear her 1976 hit Young Hearts Run Free, she will perform her other smash, You Got the Love, as she says it’s “an inspirational song.”

For festival director Alex Poots Sacred Sites is a way to explore how God is celebrated through the arts. “We’re interested in experimental theatre and offering the chance to witness performances in the most resonant setting. It shouldn’t be something you could see last week.” Poots was inspired by the US theatre director Peter Sellars, who told him there was a network of faith in every city. “Sellars said you could look at a city and it was a grid of sacred sites. That term stuck in my mind.”

Poots originally planned to do Sacred Sites for the inaugaral festival in 2007, but couldn’t make it work in tiome. “One of the earliest sensitivities was going into a situation and asking a stupid question. I wanted to do it with integrity and respect, I wanted there to be dialogue. It’s not a religious service but there are religious aspects to it.”…

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Increase in Interfaith Worship Places


As the interfaith movement grows around the world, the need for interfaith sacred spaces has grown as well. Currently, many interfaith groups meet and operate out of churches, mosques, temples, community centers, schools and members’ houses. However, how much influence does architecture have on a person’s spiritual experience? Furthermore, can architecture encourage interfaith cooperation?Interfaith-Center-at-Bryant-University-Exterior-2
If you look at every other religious house of worship, they are specifically designed to accommodate each religion’s needs and spiritual beliefs. For centuries architecture has been used for this very purpose. Most notably, the ancient Chinese system of aesthetics known as Feng Shui has been practiced for thousands of years and is widely used in oriental spiritually significant structures.

When it comes to building a church, mosque, temple, or any other house of worship, the design elements are quite obvious. However, when you have multiple faiths meeting under one roof, is it possible to create a genuine and inclusive interfaith sacred space that honours all beliefs? What might such a place look like?

It’s a daunting challenge. An interfaith sacred space needs to be a place where anyone and everyone who entered, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof, would be inspired to practice their own faith and build relationships with those of other faiths.

This need for interfaith sacred spaces has inspired many architects and interfaith groups over the years. In 2003 and 2004, the Interfaith Center at the Presidio held an Interfaith Sacred Space Design Competition, which drew some 350 registrants from 26 countries. The objective of the competition was to discover the best design principles behind interfaith sacred spaces. The Juries concluded that interfaith sacred spaces need to be intimate, located in accessible areas, be in harmony with nature, and be welcoming to people of all faiths.

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