Church hopes new evening service will have a wide appeal

In an effort to provide a spiritual experience that appeals to a wide range of Islanders, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit is starting a new service with “no sermon, no announcements and no coffee hour,” said Rev. Carla Pryne.

Vashon Vespers, slated for one evening a month, will be a short service of music, reading and meditation, where Pryne says people can take a pause from their busy lives, reflect and be inspired.

“It’s designed to quiet the mind, open the heart and invite communion with God,” she said.

Pryne said organizers hope the service will attract people of all religious backgrounds, as well as those who don’t consider themselves to be religious but are spiritual seekers. During the short, 35-minute service, there will be time for contemplative music, Taize chanting where short songs are repeated and readings that are sometimes religious in nature, sometimes inspirational and sometimes simply poetry.

“You don’t have to know how to do church to feel at home here, although there will be many church people there,” she said.

The services will be led by Pryne and music ministry director Paul Swenson, an award-winning composer and musician who has been with the church for about a year. Swenson is composing some new pieces just for the vespers, Pryne said, and is currently gathering some well-known Island musicians to lend their talents as well.

“The music component is very important to the service,” she said. “We’re definitely drawing upon the talent and creativity of Paul Swenson and the people drawn to work with him.”

As part of the Episcopal church’s centennial activities, church leaders have been brainstorming how the parish might better serve the Vashon community, Pryne said. The vespers  service has a long tradition in the Episcopal church as well as other denominations. The Vashon Lutheran Church offers a similar evening service of prayer and healing once a month.

The new service isn’t meant to draw more members to the Church of Holy Spirit, Pryne said, but to offer a commitment-free sanctuary for people to worship, meditate or seek God in their own way. If the vespers are popular, the church may hold them more regularly.

“It’s wonderful to have a service that invites people without any requirements,” she said. “It’s kind of a gift, and I think that’s what part of the church is about.”

The first Vashon Vespers service will be 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Church of the Holy Spirit. Services are also scheduled for Sept. 13, Oct. 25, Nov. 15 and Dec. 13.


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