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Reforming the peace

by
06 February 2015

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Your answers

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 January]?

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 themselves.

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, Gloucestershire

 

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 that peace".

(The Revd) Martin Kirkbride,  Exeter diocese

 

Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG. questions@churchtimes.co.uk

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