This past January, the Sunday School and Adult Christian Education ministry of Holy Trinity Church (Cheltenham, PA) joined forces to present a month of education in worship. Under the leadership of pastor Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan, the church sanctuary became a classroom for children and adults alike.
On two Sundays, the faithful experienced a “simultaneous translation” of selected sharagans from the Divine Liturgy and an “Instructed Liturgy” giving commentary on the worship service. The choir sang without accompaniment, while Dn. Albert Keshgegian translated the words of hymns from the badarak.
Parishioners Garen and Diana Boghosian presented instruction to increase knowledge of the badarak. The liturgy was halted periodically so the instructors could explain the words, actions, and symbols of worship.
This was the parish’s third presentation of the “Instructed Liturgy,” designed by the Eastern Diocese’s Department of Christian Education.
Filling in the Blanks
An innovation of the Cheltenham parish was to develop “liturgy worksheets,” which worshippers received as they entered the church. Through these, children and adults were challenged to answer questions on the liturgy, occasionally using the badarak manual and the Bible (both on hand in the pews) for assistance.
Questions included: “What do we do when the priest blesses us?” and “How many times do we say the words ‘We believe’ during the Creed?” Other questions were a bit more difficult: “Put these in the order in which they occur: communion, confession, kissing the Gospel, the hymn Der Voghormia.” A few questions even took a more lighthearted approach.
The Holy Trinity parish has scheduled another “sanctuary lesson” for March 31, when Fr. Gevorgyan’s sermon time will be devoted to descriptions of the stained-glass windows and artwork that adorn the church. Once again, parishioners will test their knowledge with a worksheet.