A Brief and Incomplete History of the Praise Screen

Calling this a history is inaccurate and false.  Actually I’m just trying to make a few points about historic worship in the church and perhaps tweak some of my more conservative friends.  So here we go.

The first praise screen was probably a prehistoric cave wall illuminated by torches or shafts of light.  Cave painting.  Yep.  Before the printing press people had limited ways of participating in corporate worship.

Memorization was a big part of worship throughout history.  It still is important as anyone who goes into an Alzheimer’s ward and begins reciting the Lord’s Prayer knows well.  But before the printing press and post cave painting there was a long time of corporate Christian worship that relied on the first worship praise screens.  You know, the screens the printing press put out of business.  Anyone who has worshiped with words written on a flip chart knows how this works.  That likely dates me as projectors are so cheap and flip charts increasingly expensive that most organizations try to go digital as soon as possible.

Before the printing press life was more organic in churches.  Choirs did not sit in neat little pews, let alone in choir stalls.  The choir would gather around a large hand written book seated upon a stand. As seen in the illustration to the left and above, each page would have 3 to 5  lines of plainsong.  The choir would sing guided by a choir master.

Then of course came the disruptive technology of the printing press.  Choirs suddenly had access to far more books to sing from, and they could sing from their own copy.  Public worship was forever changed.  Was it changed for the better?  This is a hard question to answer.

My simple point is that the Praise Screen is in fact an older concept than the hymnal.  Of course now it is digital and often used in ways that distract from worship by dipping into a Hollywood-esqe style of presentation.  But every technology can be used well or poorly.  The technology is not the problem so much as the implementation.

For the past 2.5 years of so St. James has used a praise screen as a portable church.  It worked really well.  It was cheaper then printing the worship service in bulletins and easier than carting in books every Sunday.  It worked great and people enjoyed having their hands free during worship.  Parents of young children especially appreciated this new freedom.  Now we are in a building with no obvious way of using screens.  It looks like we are going to go with books or service bulletins.  This is not a problem.  We will flex into it unless we find another solution that works.

One thought I had was to put stands like the ones in these illustrations among the pews with monitors on them!  This is not a serious consideration.  This is not a trial balloon either.  It is just a thought that brings the medieval praise screen to the present.

Anglican Scouting Committee Offers Tailored Religious Recognition Program

A purple square knot above the left uniform pocket means something special to a Boy Scout. The knot is a lifetime religious award that recognizes reverence, responsibility and duty to God and country.

For years, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has used religious recognition programs to reinforce its spiritual core and promote strong values. Today, an increasing number of Anglican parishes are playing a key role in spiritually educating youth by administering and awarding supplementary Scouting programs that encourage youth to learn about their faith, as well as recognize the adults who significantly serve them.

Previously, Anglican parishes used a general four-unit Protestant religious recognition program called P.R.A.Y. (Programs of Religious Activities With Youth) to educate Scouts. Now, thanks to the new Anglican Scouting Committee formed by Ron Morris, third-generation Scoutmaster and member of Christ Anglican in Overland Park, Kansas, parishes have the option to use a new Anglican-specific program with its own unique medals. Ron created the program with the help of Christ Anglican’s chartered Boy Scout Troop 284; Terry Dunn, a member of St. Peter’s Anglican in Fort Collins, Colorado; and other members of the Anglican Scouting Committee.

Prior to launching the program in May, Ron and Terry worked hard finding advocates authorizing them to represent Anglicanism, getting the program approved by BSA’s Religious Relationships Committee and the P.R.A.Y. board of directors, fundraising for medals and designing a special Anglican pin. They are currently working to publicize the youth program and complete the adult recognition program and award. The development of Anglican-specific content for the curriculum is a high priority for the Anglican Scouting Committee, and interested Anglicans can help develop this material by contacting them.

“We are now reaching out to Anglican churches that are chartering Boy Scout, Girl Scout or Cub Scout units to make them aware that this is available and invite them to join the movement,” Ron says. “The program is already encouraging churches to come out of the woodwork.”       

Last summer, a Cub Scout Pack at St. Francis of Assisi in Willow Park, Texas, pioneered the program.

“The program completes the outreach ministry that begins with chartering a Scouting unit,” says Scott Furlow, parishioner and Scout leader. “Based on the success we have had in getting parents and scouts studying the Bible, I encourage each scout unit to have a Duty to God program. The Anglican Duty to God program in this case is the obvious choice and is working well.”

Ron hopes others will follow their lead. Even if a church is not able to charter its own unit, if it has families involved, the Anglican Scouting Committee stands ready to support its efforts on an individual basis.

“Your church can still hold a class and use the program,” Ron says. “At Christ Church, one of the adults recently did it for two boys.”

In the days to come, Ron plans to educate more Anglican churches on the benefits of offering Scouting programs.

“To me, Scouting is a real mission field,” he says. “I served as Chaplain before I became Scoutmaster and one of the things that really touched me is that it gives us a chance to talk about our faith with boys with no religious background at all. It also gives us a chance to model to the young people that strong adult men are men of faith.”

See the Anglican Church’s Member Resources section for more background on the Anglican Scouting Program: http://www.anglicanchurch.net/?/main/resources

Learn more at www.anglican-scouting.org and www.praypub.org. Contact the Anglican Scouting Committee at .