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Old Paths and New Ways

Negotiating Tradition and Relevance in Liturgy


Robert Lilleaasen

The relationship between tradition and relevance is a core feature in religious practice in general and public worship in particular. On the one hand, worship is a bearer of religious traditions, i.e. traditions are maintained in the practice of public worship, and the worship enables individuals to connect with these traditions. On the other hand, it is a quest for relevance in public worship. In order to maintain existing worshippers and attract new participants, congregations have to consider their ability to connect their core values to the needs and expectations of existing and potential participants. This dual purpose of the worship causes a need for negotiation, and it is this negotiation between tradition and relevance that this book investigates. Old Paths and New Ways is a case study of the negotiation between tradition and the quest for relevance in liturgy.

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Chapter Four: Case Study Worships


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Case Study Worships


A main objective of this study is to describe the worship practice of the two case studies. The descriptive objective of the study begins in this chapter with an outline of the two cases. This description both introduces the two worship assemblies and serves as a basis for the further description and exploration of the cases in the subsequent chapters. The outline of the case studies in this chapter is largely based on my field notes from participant observation and documents concerning the main worship in the two cases. Ritual theoretical features (ritual space, ritual process, ritual symbol, and ritual subject) guided the participant observation and form the outline of this chapter.

4.1  Revetal Menighet

The congregation is located in rural surroundings about a one-hour drive from Oslo. Revetal is the administrative center of Re municipality, Vestfold County. There are approximately 9,000 inhabitants in Re, and a little bit more than 2,000 in Revetal (according to ssb. no 1. July 2011). The worship gatherings in Revetal Menighet take place in a local primary school, Røråstoppen skole, close to a new residential area. The school building was completed in 2003. ← 83 | 84 →

Most of the worship participants are families with children in kindergarten, pre- and primary school, but there are also some “the older members” and single people. In terms of youths, I only observed a...

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