Over the years NAAL has developed a pattern of worship that takes account of our identity as an academic society that is ecumenical and interfaith. Under the direction of the Academy’s President, worship is planned each year to include two occasions of intentionally interfaith and ecumenical worship. Other opportunities for worship, including those planned by a particular faith tradition, may be included on the Annual Meeting schedule.
- The Academy meeting opens with an interfaith Rite of Thanksgiving and Remembrance, at which we give thanks for all that has been during the past year and we remember Academy members who have died during the previous year.
- At the Academy banquet, we offer a Table Prayer. Our table prayers are created by Academy members for this occasion.
- A simple Interfaith Service may mark the conclusion of the meeting.
- Other worship opportunities during the Academy meeting may occur, and may be drawn from one of the worship traditions represented by Academy members.
All members and visitors, and their traveling companions, are welcome at any occasion of Academy worship and participate to the extent that they are able.
The North American Academy of Liturgy has chosen to include worship as in integral part of its professional academic meeting life. We are an ecumenical and inter-faith organization representing a plurality of worship traditions. These various traditions are respected and reflected in the Academy worship.
Interfaith occasions of Academy worship are planned in a manner that enables Jews and Christians to pray together, standing side by side in our own integrity. The events of the Academy provide the common focus for this worship.
Words sung or spoken by the assembly should be those that everyone can pray within their own tradition. When texts are used from distinctively Christian and Jewish resources, the service includes a balance of texts from each tradition. Planners are mindful that Jews cannot participate in distinctively Christian forms, whereas Christians can more easily pray explicitly Jewish texts, and that some Christians find it difficult to worship without any explicit reference to Christ.
The use of symbols common to both Jewish and Christian traditions, such as light, bread, and wine, allows the liturgy to have variant meanings for people from different traditions.
Music and other sounds, as well as silence, are integral to worship and allow individuals to pray with integrity within their own tradition.
The Academy President, in consultation with the Academy Committee, has responsibility for shaping the worship at the Annual Meeting. Since the late 1990s, NAAL has developed a pattern of worship that includes both liturgy that is rooted within a particular worshiping tradition and occasions of Academy worship using liturgical forms created for the entire Academy.
Official Academy worship is interfaith. Members may provide additional occasions of worship that represent a particular tradition. Official Academy worship is intentionally interfaith and ecumenical and includes two services: the opening worship and the table prayer at the banquet.
Rite of Thanksgiving and Remembrance. We open the Annual Academy Meeting with worship. We begin with thanks for all that has been during the past year and we remember Academy members who have died during the previous year. During the Rite of Thanksgiving and Remembrance, a member or Visitor present at the Academy lights a candle, presents a brief memorial (150 or fewer words), a candle is lit, and the prayer leader gives thanks and commends the deceased member to God. Non-Academy members important to the field may be named by the President at the Opening Rite.
Table Prayer. Drawing upon the Christian and Jewish traditions of praying at meals, this participatory prayer frames the NAAL banquet, gathering people in song and offering blessings for bread and wine.
Closing Worship. A simple interfaith service may mark the conclusion of the Annual Meeting.
Seminar or denominational groups may volunteer proposals or be invited to submit proposals to lead worship for future meetings.
Other worship services during Academy meetings may take place in the Seminars.
The overall schedule and location of the meeting help determine when and where worship is scheduled.
The President sends worship guidelines to those planning worship for the Annual Meeting.
When the Academy meets on a Friday and/or Saturday, information about Shabbat services in the local community is provided, and when it meets on a Sunday, information about Christian services is provided.
The Academy Committee may arrange to use local house(s) of worship for its liturgies. The accessibility guidelines posted on the website call for sites to be accessible to the disabled. If the site is more than two or three blocks from the hotel, the Academy Committee arranges for transportation for those with visual or mobility challenges.
When worship takes place in the hotel, planners are attentive to the liturgical environment. The budget for the Annual Meeting includes a small amount to allow the creation or purchase of art, candles, or other ritual objects to enable the space to be more conducive to worship.
All official Academy worship is reviewed by the Academy Committee. A draft of the liturgy should be submitted to the Academy Committee no later than November 1.
Worship planners are to create a print-ready copy of the worship aid well in advance of the Annual Meeting and arrange with the Meeting Manager and/or Secretary for printing.
Because the Academy welcomes a large number of visitors each year, a brief explanation of the Academy’s patterns of worship is made available to participants.