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Presbyterian Church hosting Taize service
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The Manteca Presbyterian Church is once again playing host to the solemn ecumenical Taize service on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
 The Tuesday evening worship marked by candlelight, the singing of simple but powerful worship songs, and silent prayers offered before a simple wooden cross is aimed at focusing everyone’s attention to the reason for the season – the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ – and to the attainment of peace, unity of hope in a broken world.
Everyone is invited to attend this ecumenical event which is roughly an hour long. The prayerful atmosphere is in keeping with the original intention of the Taize movement which began in France after World War II - to “attempt to build reconciliation in a broken world.” The Taize community in France remains to this day a popular destination where thousands of Christians of different traditions and backgrounds gather and worship side by side and be a witness to the world.
That ecumenical gathering is reflected in the Manteca Taize service which started in 2014 when then pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Father Patrick Walker, who now shepherds the faithful at Sacred Heart Parish in Turlock, and Pastor Karl Hauser of the Manteca Presbyterian Church got together to start this interdenominational worship in the area. Since then, four Christian churches in the Family City have played host to this candlelight prayer gathering held twice a year – prior to the season of Advent and during Lent. They are the United Lutheran Church on Northgate Drive, St. Paul’s United Methodist on Powers Avenue, the Manteca Presbyterian Church on North Main, and St. Anthony of Padua on East North Street.
Other area Christian churches are invited and encouraged to be part of this interdenominational prayer effort either by attendance or by volunteering to host the Taize. The service does not require elaborate preparation; it is defined by simplicity. Setting this tone are dozens of candlelight illuminating the lone figure of a wooden cross in the center of the prayer tableau.
Interspersed with the continuous singing of Taize music which is characterized by contemplative simple refrains and led by a group of musicians from St. Anthony of Padua, are Scripture readings, silent meditation moments, and shared petitions. Toward the end of the service, individuals in the gathering are invited to approach and kneel or touch the cross as they offer their silent prayers to God.
Pope Francis, speaking about the Taize movement during his apostolic trip to Turkey on Nov. 30, 2014, said, “It is precisely the young who today implore us to make progress towards full communion. I think for example of the many Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant youth who come together at meetings organized by the Taizé Community. They do not do this because they are not aware of the differences which still separate us, but because they are able to see beyond them; they are able to embrace what is really important and what already unites us.”
Manteca Presbyterian Church, which is hosting the advent worship in the spirit of Taize, is located at 275 North Main St., corner North Street.