Pillar and Cloud Convictions

The APLM Council developed this list of liturgical principles and theological convictions as council members reflected on their worship together and their experience of worship in varied contexts. Pillar and Cloud congregations strive to live more fully into these ideas and ideals, using them as a foundational framework for planning and benchmarks for evaluating congregational worship and formation.

  1. Baptism into the paschal mystery of the dying and rising of Christ incorporates a person into the Body of Christ and constitutes the Christian community.
  2. Baptism celebrates the conversion of those who have been formed as the Body of Christ to share in Christ’s continuing mission. Casual baptisms without proper formation undermine this principle: “Christians are made, not born.”
  3. Christians are made through a process of conversion
    • in stages marked by public rites, supported by the liturgical assembly;
    • involving worship, scriptures, prayer, and justice-doing;
    • climaxing in Baptism into the dying and rising of Jesus,
    • which incorporates them into the Eucharistic assembly of the Body of Christ,
    • followed by a period of reflecting on the baptismal experience.
    • In the case of an infant candidate, formation takes place with the parents and sponsors in a parallel process of conversion; formation of the child after baptism explores the mystery of her baptism and of living it out throughout her life as a member of the Eucharistic assembly.Formation of all Baptized members is ongoing and intentional, individually and as a congregation.
  4. Our baptismal conversion has transformed our understanding of time. Therefore the liturgical calendar, centered on the Passover of the Lord, orders not only our worship, but also the whole of our life together.
  5. The Eucharist is a prophetic enactment of the Reign of God, where the whole Creation is brought to its fulfillment. By rehearsing just behaviors in worship, the assembly develops an embodied sense of the Reign of God, with its implications of social, economic, and environmental justice. Liturgy must not only proclaim, but also embody the reconciliation and peace that is God’s work in Jesus Christ. (Luke 4; Matthew 25; 2 Cor. Etc. – all the OT passages in Vigil)
  6. The assembly of the baptized is the primary symbol in liturgy.
  7. The Eucharist is a liturgy composed of several symbolic actions, which the assembly performs as it:
    • gathers in the name of God, in response to God’s call;
    • proclaims and responds to God’s Word;
    • intercedes for the world and the church;
    • offers the Great Thanksgiving;
    • shares the meal;
    • is sent out to join with God in mission.
  8. In the Eucharist all Christians worship:
    • The assembly carries out the symbolic actions of worship and all their elements in a full and robust manner such that these “speak for themselves.” These actions are not carried out in a minimalized or obscure manner. They are not adapted for the sake of novelty.
    • Baptismal identity and calling is cultivated and sustained.
    • All the baptized, of all ages, ability, and diversity, participate fully as a Body and together celebrate the entire liturgy; there are no spectators.
  9. Liturgical action involves the following elements:
    •  place
    •  movement
    •  sound/silence/music
    • material objects
    •  translations/words/lyrics
  10. The arrangement of the worship space always serves the needs of the gathering, and not vice-versa. The worship space is as flexible as possible.
  11. Objects and elements are made sacred when they are used liturgically by a holy people; they are not sacred in and of themselves.
    • The use of ordinary and common objects and elements is the most effective demonstration of the transforming nature of liturgy. (ex. bread looks like bread that is used in the culture)
    • Similarly, common language, used in poetic, generous and expansive ways, is the preferred language of the liturgy.
    • The gestures and actions of the liturgy are simple, intentional and consistent with the theology of the rites being celebrated.
  12. The Eucharist is manifest in its fullest form when all orders of ministry are present. In our time, as the church is rediscovering its identity as a “sent” people, the recovery of the deacon as a distinct ministry and an icon of mission is a priority.
  13. Hospitality is an essential mark of the Reign of God. Therefore, a deliberate approach for welcoming,  engaging, and making room for the newcomer and the stranger is crucial, not only in the Sunday assembly, but throughout the life and ministry of the church.
  14. All members of the assembly, ordained or not, participate in the preparation of the liturgy. The structure of the rites in the BCP, BAS, and ELW is important as a stabilizing force allowing for the ongoing development of ritual tradition through dynamic experimentation and adaptation.
  15. No congregation lives in isolation. Dialogue and engagement among congregations is understood as necessary for the liturgical life of any individual community of faith. The Pillar and Cloud Network aims to help congregations engage with each other for mutual encouragement through sharing resources and ideas.  Member congregations agree to journey with other congregations virtually and in person..

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