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Worship Throughout the Year

Evangelical Covenant Churches

The Evangelical Covenant Church emerged from small groups of believers (conventicles) that met to cultivate warm personal piety. It has also—on a customary rather than mandatory basis—sustained observance of the church year, which keeps the Christian story alive and vivid in the community.

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Evangelical Free Churches

In its origins, the Evangelical Free Church sharply rejected practice of the Christian year as part of the rigid structures of the state church. Congregations today usually recognize Advent, Christmas, and Holy Week in some fashion, but formal adherence to the liturgical calendar remains almost nonexistent. A recent renewal of emphasis on worship in general, however, may bring about new attention to the Christian year.

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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Full observance of the church year is central to Lutheran spiritual life. Lutherans have been influenced by ecumenical developments, as seen in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s adoption of the Roman Catholic calendar and lectionary. They have also influence ecumenical development of the Christian year, particularly in the observance of Advent.

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Friends (Quakers)

The Quaker rejection of formalism and ceremony in worship extended to the observances of the church calendar. Resistance to formalism remains today, although Evangelical Quakers celebrate portions of the Christian year.

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Independent Fundamentalist and Evangelical Churches

During the past decade, interest in a modified observance of the Christian year has been growing in some independent evangelical churches, despite longstanding disdain for liturgy and formalism. Following the Christian year has allowed some congregations to foster Christian maturity in a balanced way.

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International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

Foursquare churches combine important days from the Christian year with national observances in forming their own church year, one that correlates with the yearly rhythm experienced by its members and the surrounding community. Special Pentecost services emphasizing the church’s Pentecostal beliefs were held in its early days and have recently been revived in a different form.

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Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, in continuity with Martin Luther and subsequent confessional Lutheranism, observes the full, traditional Christian year as a vehicle of the gospel. In the 1980s, some Missouri Synod churches moved away from the church year as too restrictive, while others sought an even more thorough appropriation of the church’s ancient liturgical heritage.

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Mennonite Churches

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Mennonites followed the Christian year while most American Protestants did not. In the twentieth century, with the transition to use of English in worship, Mennonites dropped the Christian year, which now seemed formalistic and restrictive. Since 1980, many Mennonites have discovered the Christian year as a means of revitalizing worship, though on the whole its use remains irregular.

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Messianic Synagogue

Messianic Jews observe the liturgical calendar of the Torah rather than the Christian year. In some instances, they add a Christological tone to the traditional Jewish meaning of these observances.

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National Baptist Convention, USA

The worship calendar in most congregations of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. combines important days of the Christian year with numerous annual days—memorial observations and celebrations of various functions and organizations in congregational life and the black community. These days were established primarily because of economic and social needs rather than scriptural mandate.

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