Across the community of churches affiliated with the CEEC.CHURCH there exist a variety of public worship expressions. We refer to these different expressions as “Rites.” The CEEC.CHURCH defines the rites as five unique expressions of public worship.
The worship of the capital-C Church is liturgical; that is, it is the “work of the people.” It involves the participation of all the people, as opposed to spectator worship or “worship as theater.” Liturgy is neither living nor dead; it is simply engaged in by people who are either spiritually alive or spiritually dead. Participating in a spiritually-living liturgy is a powerful and moving experience.
The rite is not the liturgy; it is a written version or variation of the ancient, apostolic pattern of worship. The rite is a guide and teacher. The liturgy, always conforming to the apostolic shape, is free, open, participatory, and Spirit-filled. It is a holistic expression involving the spirit, the soul, and the body.
This Communion’s approach to liturgy is not based on legislative but rather on normative practice as shaped by the Scriptures and by the historic, apostolic and orthodox example.
The worship of the CEEC.CHURCH is characterized by both liturgy and liberty.
Rite I congregations would embrace what many describe as the “low church” dominant paradigm; that which is commonly experienced in the typical Protestant congregation. Attendance at a Sunday morning worship service feels very much like going to some iteration of the classical Charismatic-Pentecostal experience. Rite I recognizes the ancient church as a legitimate voice, but mostly in its celebration of weekly Eucharist. A “full liturgy” is unlikely. There may be little public engagement with the creeds. Adherence to the church calendar’s most major dates (such as Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter) would be common, but not to lesser days or to the lectionary in general. One would certainly not expect the use of vestments, except on the most formal of occasions (such as a wedding or funeral).
Rite II congregations would be predominantly Protestant in their expression, while giving more credence to simple liturgical elements. These communities have begun to integrate elements of the historic liturgy. This integration would be seen in the ways the church recognizes major elements of the church calendar (such as Advent or Lent, for example), follows the lectionary, and regularly confesses one of the creeds as part of congregational worship. While maintaining a high value on powerful worship and biblical preaching, Rite II congregations weekly participation in the Eucharist is now also appreciated as a central element of the worship experience. The person leading the Eucharist might commonly be expected to don a stole, the ancient symbol of authority.
Rite III congregations continue to embrace and value the Evangelical emphasis on Word and the Charismatic emphasis on the Holy Spirit, but they do so in the context of the liturgy. Rather than incorporating the liturgy into a “Pent-ismatic” context, Rite III communities intentionally and creatively incorporate “low church” elements into the historically-established liturgy, and in this manner bring a blend of low church freedom into the majesty of the liturgy. Rite III communities would have a broad recognition of the church calendar, including many of the historic expressions that accompany their celebration. So, for example, whereas a Rite I congregation might publicly recognize Palm Sunday, a Rite III congregation would likely celebrate Palm Sunday by distributing palm fronds to the church, even possibly processing into the building together to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem.
Rite IV congregations would be fully sacramental, and embrace what many would describe as the “high church” paradigm. The clergy leading these services would be fully vested. The church service would be a liturgical experience from beginning to end; likely including formal prayers of the people, congregational prayers of penitence, professing the Nicene Creed aloud as a congregation at the conclusion of the sermon, and sharing the peace. Rite IV churches would embrace the sacraments in a way that is fully in-step with the Anglican or Anglo-Roman tradition. While many Rite I communities would see themselves working to deliberately include sacramental elements, one would find Rite IV communities working to deliberately include more of the free-flowing elements of a Spirit-led worship experience .
Rite V congregations would, in many respects, exhibit a more fully-formed convergence experience for their church communities. These would be congregations whose spiritual life and worship services are fully evangelical, fully charismatic and fully sacramental. Rite V churches would be characterized by the best elements of each of the three streams.
Because Rite V communities have fully valued all three historic streams of the faith, they would regularly see these streams converging in their worship expressions. Joyous and reverent worship would be empowered by the Holy Spirit, who would be free to move among His people and manifest His gifts.
The liturgical framework of the service flowing through the prayers of the people could be complemented with personal time and space for prayer.
The word of God would be honored and esteemed, and each service would include the lectionary readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament and the Gospel. The preached word would expound upon that which had been read, providing insight and application.
Liturgical Eucharist would be celebrated weekly.