Taize service brings peace, healing to congregation in Bethel Park

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Of the Taize Sung Prayers service at Christ United Methodist Church, Linda Williams, minister of music and worship, said "we like to think of it as an oasis from the hustle and bustle of our lives."

Taize is a peaceful service of quiet prayer, songs, meditation, anointing of oils and prayers for healing and reconciliation. The prayer songs are often sung over and over again like a mantra, and are sometimes drawn from holy scripture.

The songs are frequently sung in different languages. There are no sermons or announcements.

The Bethel Park church, 44 Highland Road, holds the roughly 40-minute service at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in its sanctuary.

The next Taize service will be on Wednesday. It is open to the public.

During the service, the lights are dimmed. Most of the prayers are sung, with a small group of instrumentalists on flute, guitars, clarinet, violin, cello and keyboard.

"There is a lot of music, but it is simple music, and the prayers and music come out of the Taize community in France," said the Rev. Williams, of Peters.

The Taize service is named after an ecumenical community of brothers in a small French village whose monastic life is based on prayer, work and hospitality.

The service they developed draws people worldwide to the village to experience their worship and lifestyle, said the Rev. Williams.

The Taize service at Christ United Methodist, which was first held in March 2001, is based on the brothers' service.

It gives me an inner peace," said parishioner Linda Carter, of Bethel Park, who attends every Taize service.

Attendees often say aloud the names of people or causes they are praying for.

"I feel like I'm helping because someone else might hear the name and offer prayers," Ms. Carter said.

"There is a need for this sort of thing," Tom Kelly said of the service. Mr. Kelly plays guitar and sings there.

"We've had people come month after month in search of healing, whether it be spiritual or emotional, problems in relationships, or whatever else," he said.


Margaret Smykla is a freelance writer.


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