Piepkorn via Luther (At the Movies)

LATM has some good Piepkorn quotes worthy of serious consideration (via this site):

“In October 1951 a pastor wrote to Piepkorn for help with a paper on the use of the Liturgy for evangelistic purposes that the pastor was preparing for delivery at a pastoral conference. Piepkorn replied:

The subject is interesting and you should be able to do quite a lot with the evangelistic emphasis in the Confession of Sins, the Nicene Creed, the Common Offertories, the General Prayer, the Preface for Advent, Lent and Easter, the Agnus Dei, the Words of Institution and the Aaronic Blessing. At the same time, you ought to give due consideration to the fact that the Liturgy is part of the Church’s private culture and was never designed or intended for evangelistic purposes. The propaganda service of the early Church was the synaxis [the Service of the Word], not the Eucharist. The synaxis consisted almost wholly of lections and instructions—no prayers. In this connection let me commend to your reading Dom Gregory Dix’ The Shape of the Liturgy. My own feeling is that we should not try to make the Liturgy do too much. We should probably do better if we held special services (weekly or monthly, or daily for short periods) for the evangelization of the unchurched. . . .

I have observed that parishes which scaled the Liturgy down in the interest of evangelization (abbreviating it, miscegnating it with “popular” hymns, and eliminating the traditional ceremonial) have never been able to return to a really more adequate worship level. My own experience is that my people and I can do more with pagan and Protestant inquirers in a service designed especially for their needs—strongly educational and evangelistic, as informal as possible without vulgarizing the subject matter, and with plenty of give-and-take (achieved through such means as discussion, panel presentations, audiovisual aids, pulpit dialogue, and a question box). After they have been adequately instructed, then they can be brought into a normal Lutheran service and participate in it with spiritual profit.

(Letter of October 16, 1951 to the Rev. D.)

“At the same time, Piepkorn was ‘profoundly skeptical of “informal”‘ worship services. In November of 1952, he wrote in reply to another pastor:

I am no foe of experimentation; I have done my share in my time, and please God, I shall keep on doing so. I am profoundly grateful for every valuable insight that I have been able to obtain from the experimentation of other people. After eleven years in the military service, during most of which I occupied a supervisory position where I was compelled to be present at literally hundreds of religious services of all denominations, I am profoundly skeptical of “informal” worship. . . .

I have repeatedly insisted that one service a week in our churches is inadequate and that we ought to have a considerable variety of services to meet a variety of needs and, what is ultimately probably more important to accomplish, a variety of functions. Part of the problem, of course, is the size of our parishes. This is only one of many areas where we are paying what seems to me to be too high a price for uneconomically small parochial organizations. At the same time, I believe that each ought as a minimum to offer its membership at least one service a Sunday and other major Holy Days in which the Blessed Sacrament is celebrated according to the order of service prescribed by our Church. If this were done, it would seem to me to be quite within the province of the pastor and the parish to engage in as much legitimate experimentation at other hours as the facilities of the parish permit.

(November 6, 1952 Letter to the Rev. S)

On a personal note, I have a copy of a letter that my great-grandfather wrote to Piepkorn (while he was president of the NW District) objecting to Piepkorn’s speaking at an ALC event in Parkland, WA, and Piepkorn’s reply explaining why he would attend.

Timotheos

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