The United Methodist Book of Worship contains services, prayers and other acts of worship used within the denomination. The Book of Worship differs from The United Methodist Hymnal, which also contains many prayers and services, in that it is primarily used by pastors in leading worship, though relevant sections may be legally photocopied for inclusion in an order of worship for the congregation’s use.
The Book of Worship was authorized by the General Conference -- the legislative body of the Church -- in 1992 as a resource for a young denomination. Although Methodism as a revival movement -- and later a denomination -- has thrived since the 18th century, The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 by the joining of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church. Hence, The United Methodist Book of Worship reflects both of these historical traditions as well as Methodism’s original roots in the Anglican faith.
The first section of the Book of Worship outlines common worship services, starting with a basic pattern for regular worship services. Next, the book presents a variety of services of word and table, also known as communion or Eucharist. Services of the baptismal covenant include liturgies especially for baptizing children or adults. The Book of Worship also outlines services of Christian marriage (weddings) and services of death and resurrection (funerals). The diverse list of shorter services for specific occasions includes blessing of the animals, services of healing, consecration of new church buildings and ordination of clergy.
The Book of Worship takes Methodists through the calendar of the Christian year with suggested acts of worship -- such as greetings and dismissals, prayers and hymn recommendations -- for special seasons. These include Advent, the Christmas season, the season after Epiphany, Lent, the Easter season and the season after Pentecost. Guidelines are also given for celebrating special Sundays of the United Methodist Church -- like Peace with Justice Sunday and Christian Education Sunday -- or of the civil calendar -- like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Mother’s Day.
Musical Responses, Prayers and Blessings
In addition to the songs in the United Methodist Hymnal, the Book of Worship offers short musical responses for various services and acts of worship, including call to worship, baptism and benediction. Prayers for specific points in the worship service include opening prayers and prayers of confession and pardon. It also gives prayers for specific needs from natural disaster to justice and peace. Finally, blessings to be prayed over individuals or groups include blessings for birthdays, graduates, newly engaged couples and retirees.
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