Special service to unite two Selma churches

Published 10:54pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Before the celebration of Christ’s resurrection this Sunday, two area churches are joining forces for a Tenebrae service, or service of darkness Thursday that will serve as a time of reflection.

“We’re joining forces with First Presbyterian Church,” Gordon Welch, music director of Church Street United Methodist said. “Their choir and Church Street’s choir are joining together to present this service of darkness — it’s called a Tenebrae service.”

A Tenebrae service, Welch explained, is a worship service in preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday services.

“It talks about and deals with the last week of Christ’s life through scripture and through song. The choir will be singing interspersed with readings that have to do with what Christ was going through as he was going through his trials and tribulations to the time of his death,” he said. “It is a service where the various lights in the sanctuary will be extinguished as the service progresses, so by the time we end the service we will be in total darkness.”

The purpose of the darkness, Welch said, is to serve as a reminder of the darkness and dreariness that was felt during the time that Christ was being put on trial. A darkness that is reflective of his beating, his suffering and of course, when he was crucified, he added.

“The hope and glory of it all is, of course, Easter Sunday,” Welch said, “But everything [Thursday] night will be dark, in fact, at the end of the service we’ll ask the congregation to leave and depart in silence as they think about the service as well as what is going on in their personal life.”

This is the first time the two congregations, First Presbyterian and Church Street United Methodist, have joined together to do the service.

“This year we wanted to do something different, and make it exciting and very meaningful for our congregations,” Welch said. “We wanted to provide something for the community that would allow [them] the opportunity to come to a reflective service.”

Welch reiterated the service Thursday is not an Easter Sunday service.

“It’s not Easter Sunday yet — this is more reflective,” he said. “[It’s a time to] personally look into your life, as well as being presented the story of what Christ was going through that last week of his life.”

The service will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church located at 301 Broad St. An organ, string quartet ensemble and obo will accompany the choirs of both churches.

The Tenebrae service is open to the community and both Sidney McCollum, interim pastor of First Presbyterian and Reba Wiley, senior pastor of Church Street United Methodist will have parts in the service.

“This is free and open to the whole community of Selma, and we certainly hope they will come,” Welch said.

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