A number of assumptions support and shape a comprehensive effort like Renewing Worship. Because of their broad implications, three are noted here.
Central thingsThe Use of the Means of Grace
(UMG) is the sacramental practices statement of the ELCA. In
that UMG was adopted by the ELCA in Churchwide Assembly (1997),
it is authoritative for this church on matters related to worship.
It is therefore foundational to Renewing Worship, which seeks
to bring to fuller expression and wider understanding, convictions
related to word and sacrament as central to worship. Attention
to central things draws the ELCA into a broader ecumenical conversation
about worship renewal. While Principles for Worship contributes
to the shape and content of provisional resources being developed,
Principles for Worship is itself provisional (a study
document) and does not have standing as a statement of the church.
Lutheran identityas an initiative of the ELCA,
Renewing Worship values Lutheran tradition and identity. As
a relatively young church, we are still learning what it means
to be together. Increasingly it means acknowledging our differences
and discovering that differences are often more blessing than
The variety of worship practices in the ELCA reflects different
patterns and pieties within Lutheranism, as well as different
ethnic backgrounds and experiences that include the gifts of newer
immigrant communities. It also reflects the influences of non-Lutheran
worship practices and materials, both good and bad. In other words,
there is a complexity to the variety that goes well beyond local
tastes. Renewing Worship is intent on honoring both the Lutheran
instinct for freedom in the ways we worship, and the value of
worshiping in ways that are consistent with Lutheran confessional
and historical identity.
Wide participationworship renewal is by nature
participatory. Since worship is the work of the people, so also
worship renewal is the work of the people. All the people. In
addition to the many who are directly involved with resource
development, (consultants, editorial teams, development panels),
the entire effort depends on the involvement and investment
of people from across the whole church. Renewing Worship is
designed to flow out of and back into local worshiping assemblies.
Participation requires accessibility. A dedicated Renewing Worship
website (www. renewingworship.org) provides up-to-date information
about the project as it continues to unfold. Feedback is encouraged.
Contents of the Renewing Worship series (with the exception of
some copyrighted material, mostly music)are available for free
download. Published volumes are also available for purchase and
include a form for evaluation and response. Churchwide notices
invite contact by mail or telephone. In addition to the planned
Renewing Worship days, presentations are made in a variety of
The insights and influences of recognized liturgical scholars
and of local worship leaders are important to churchwide renewal.
Still, Renewing Worship assumes that members of every worshiping
assembly have a stake in the outcome, and should have the opportunity
to be heard even as they take responsibility for sharing in the