When did the Peace become a chaotic, free-for-all
intermission, and what can be done to apply some sanity to this
part of the service of worship [Answers, 30
When I was a churchwarden in a village church in North
Yorkshire, the Rector and PCC decided to avail themselves of the
new liturgy, complete with the Peace.
My fellow churchwarden and I, after the intercessions, would
come forward and receive the Peace from the celebrant at the
chancel step. We would then pass back along the aisle, exchanging
the Peace with the person on the end of each row, from whom it
would then be passed along each respective row with the occasional
(decorous) exchange to the pew in front or behind.
This seemed to satisfy everyone, even those who had at first
been wary. This pattern persisted for years until, during the next
interregnum, those in the new gallery (we were a growing church),
tiring of the long wait, began to exchange the Peace among
On my occasional but greatly treasured returns to that church,
it is a joy to find the Peace being exchanged in an unstructured
but quite unchaotic fashion, as surely it can be anywhere.
(The Revd) Peter Grigsby
South Harting, Petersfield
In January 1966, at a conference for young members of the
Methodist Church, the Peace was explained to us. It was suggested
that we offer the person on our right and the person on our left
the sign of the Peace, and that in this way the Peace would pass
through the congregation.
Now that we have been overtaken by creeping chaos, other points
could be more appropriate: at the start, when the minister welcomes
the congregation, or at the end: "Let us go in peace to love and
serve the Lord . . . and now let us offer one another a sign of
this Peace" (my addition and italics).
Jean Edwards, Leonard Stanley,
Visitors, particularly men, can find the Peace both embarrassing
and uncomfortable. Those who point to the Pauline exortations as
validating the practice should note that essentially, though not
exclusively, Paul is addressing small house churches rather than
larger eclectic congregations.
To prevent its becoming an inappropriate intermission, my
preference is to have the verbal response only, and later have a
participatory active response at the end of the service, when,
after the congregation reply to the dismissal bidding, "Go in peace
to love and serve the Lord," I invite people to "share a sign of
(The Revd) Martin Kirkbride, Exeter
Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta
House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y