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Worship Throughout the Year

THE CHRISTIAN YEAR AMONG THE CHURCHES

As this section makes clear, Christians differ significantly on the need for observing the Christian year. Nevertheless, there are signs that even those denominations that have traditionally resisted following a Christian calendar are taking a second look at this ancient practice. More traditional churches are also discovering how observing the cycle of Christian seasons contributes to worship renewal.

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Adventist Churches

Christmas and Easter celebrations have become increasingly common in Adventist churches. Observance of the Christian year remains rare, but a few congregations are discovering that it is a rewarding source of balance and biblical spirituality in worship.

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African Methodist—Episcopal Zion Churches

Although A.M.E. Zion churches do not widely observe the Christian year, some congregations have made attempts to include some of its features in worship. This article describes the efforts of one pastor to revitalize worship, particularly through Advent and Epiphany traditions.

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American Baptist Churches in the USA

American Baptist congregations are free to choose their own order of worship, and so the observance of the Christian year varies among churches. In the twentieth century, many congregations have followed an American civil calendar and have combined both religious and civil observances. Since the 1960s, however, there has been a strong movement toward recovery of a more distinctly Christian calendar.

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Anglican/Episcopal Churches

Worship in the Anglican Communion is structured by liturgical celebration of the Christian year, centering on Easter. In recent decades, greater emphasis has been placed on the paschal and baptismal nature of the church year and on observing the complete yearly cycle, not just major festivals.

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Assemblies of God Churches

The church calendar in the Assemblies of God includes only some of the major events of the Christian year, but also designates numerous days for promotion of denominational programs and recognizes national holidays and ecumenical observances. Congregations have considerable freedom in choosing which days to observe and how to observe them.

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Baptist (Evangelical Denominations And Independent Baptist Churches)

The Meadow Hills Baptist Church in Aurora, Colorado, provides an exception to the suspicion of the Christian year that generally prevails among independent Baptist churches. This congregation has found practice of the Christian year to be a powerful means of deepening evangelical faith.

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Baptist General Conference

Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, a congregation in the Baptist General Conference, has in recent years begun to place strong emphasis on observing some seasons of the Christian year. The full traditional year is not observed, however, so that some times may be designated for particular attention to concerns such as missions and family life.

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Brethren (Plymouth) Assemblies

Powerful theological and historical positions make for continued resistance to the Christian year among the (Plymouth) Brethren. Christmas and Easter are viewed mainly as opportunities for evangelism.

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Charismatic Churches

Charismatic churches often began in a reaction against the formalism of historic denominations, and the charismatic movement as a whole has shown little interest in any parts of the traditional Christian year outside of Christmas and Easter. However, many of these churches have begun to recover aspects of the Old Testament festal calendar, and there is renewed interest in the historic Christian calendar as well.

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