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Worshiping to the Beat of a Different Drum

One Sunday in November, worshipers at Cornerstone Christian Reformed Church in Chilliwack, British Columbia, went beyond their own roots to those of the First Nations people groups.

The piano, guitar, and drum set were replaced with a large handmade drum and the familiar spoken and sung words with chants.

Harold Roscher, a member of the Cree Nation, was invited to lead the morning and evening services. Roscher is a ministry associate in the CRC and the director of the Edmonton (Alberta) Native Healing Centre, a ministry of the CRC (http://www.crcna.org/pages/cm_aborig_enhc_index.cfm#).

The worship services were planned to increase understanding that in the eyes and heart of God there is no distinction between nations and cultures.

Roscher explained the ancient honor call and the tradition of communal drumming. Participants were invited to join the drumming circle while those in the pew participated in a worship chant.

Roscher lead in a traditional communal prayer as well, inviting the congregation to stand, and in turn, face East, South, West, and North. For each direction, the plight of the peoples from each corner of the globe was lifted up. They prayed for healing and return of all people to acknowledge the Great Creator Spirit God who has come down to live among us and share in our lives.

“The young children heartily and in a carefree manner beat the communal drum” said John Vugteveen, a member at Cornerstone, “but for many of us it was an intense and not always comfortable experience.”

The worship services stretched Vugteveen but also convinced him that “within the Body of Christ, there is to be no attitude of superiority, as to whose culture has a higher rank as far as worship or stature is concerned.”

Chilliwack has a large First Nations community, the most prominent one being the Sto:lo Nation.

The services were part of a five-week series called JustWorship, which allowed the congregation to explore connections between worship and justice and included services on environmental responsibility and international missions.

About the Author

Jenny deGroot is a teacher/librarian in Langley, British Columbia.

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