Worshiping in Sewanee
Experience Episcopal liturgy in the Anglican tradition.
Being an Episcopalian, being an Anglican, means different things to different people. There are regional differences, not only in the United States, but around the world. We all share some threads of common life and belief, and across the Anglican Communion we center ourselves around one version or another of the Book of Common Prayer. Here in Sewanee, nothing is more central to our life together than the two books of the tradition—the Holy Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer.
At Sewanee, we believe that our students should be exposed to the entire breadth of the Prayer Book and the Hymnal and the auxiliary resources that go with them. We are not interested in familiarity, but fluency. Knowing how they work and how to use them transforms them from texts to tools for ministry whether one is in a parish setting, on a university campus, in prison ministry, or a chaplaincy of any sort.
It is important that our students develop a rich and reliable prayer life. This means providing the opportunity to pray in community day in and day out, year after year. It is a high priority to encourage each other’s capacity to pray, to pray more deeply, and to form the discipline to pray more faithfully. It’s absolutely a critical part of the spiritual formation for ministry. Whatever the context of one’s ministry, a reliable, disciplined prayer life is critical for survival and the foundation of thriving in ministry. Seminary is the time to get that discipline well in place.
So, what is it like to worship here? Sewanee has evolved into what a number of historians over the last century and a half have called “Sewanee High Church.” The “High Church/Low Church” nomenclature is really about ecclesiology and your view of the Church, not about the liturgy and whether or not you use incense. At the School of Theology, we are in a particular sort of niche: we are not low church in the way that that is often defined liturgically, often meaning “minimalist” with little or no attention to ritual matters beyond the text. But neither are we 19th-century romantics constantly looking for ways to embroider our rites with the embellishments of yesteryear. Years ago, Reginald Fuller, who was a visiting professor here, said, “the thing I love about the worship at Sewanee is that it is sort of Prayer Book Catholic; rich, full, and musical, but not precious.” That sums it up well!