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Celtic worship moves to traditional hour

The 11 a.m. worship at most churches is the traditional service, but St. David’s Episcopal Church in Spokane shifted its Sunday morning schedule in September, offering the traditional Episcopal liturgy at 9 a.m. and its Celtic Eucharist at 11 a.m.

Celtin Altar
Altar for Celtic service are artistic arrangements

Previously, the Celtic service was only at 7 p.m., fourth Thursdays, and Sunday services were at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.  The monthly Thursday service continues.

It started in 2007 after the Rev. Elaine Breckenridge, rector since 2004, visited Ireland and found that Celtic traditions meshed with her spirituality and philosophy.

About 40—including more young adults than the traditional service—attend consistently.  Some are otherwise unchurched.

“It’s an alternative spiritual approach that gives flexible doctrine and artistic expression,” she said.

Elaine describes the worship as “Christ centered, creation-filled and community-oriented.”

The semi-circular configuration of the chairs is conducive to conversations, in contrast to the priest preaching a sermon from a pulpit.

Instead, Elaine asks questions to invite participation and interaction through discussion.  The music is also participatory, with people playing percussion instruments, and accompaniment by keyboardists, an Irish drummer and violinist for creative, often Celtic, jazz and new age music.

Participants also take turns making artistic arrangements of symbols and elements of creation—air, fire, water and earth in front of the lectern.

Celtic Christian spirituality was influenced by cultural traditions as Christianity spread in Celtic areas, she said.  Prayers used today come from contemporary Celtic spirituality and earlier traditions. 

 “It’s important to continue the traditional worship, as well as to be open to new things,” she said, “and to offer varied ways to worship God.

“Discussions allows people to reflect on their personal spirituality.  It gives me an opportunity to teach through discussion, engaging people with the Gospel in a more proactive way,” Elaine said.  “I say something, and people respond out loud, which deepens their participation.”

For information, call 466-3100 or email mother–Elaine@comcast.net.