The second annual Manteca Taize prayer service will be held Thursday, Dec. 3, starting at 7 p.m. It will take place at the Manteca Presbyterian Church which plays host to this evening of ecumenical worship along with St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
Joining the two churches this year in this prayerful Christian communion are “leaders from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Karl Hauser, pastor of the Presbyterian Church located on the southwest corner of North Main and North streets in Manteca.
“Manteca (Presbyterian Church) is hosting it this time but all three churches will attend,” Hauser said.
“A new solidarity” is the theme of this 2015 Taize prayer service, with the music being led “by the talented people from the Catholic Church,” he said. Members of the other congregations will do the readings.
“The goal of the Taize movement is to encourage ecumenical worship. The goal of these services is to provide a place for Christians in Manteca to come together in solidarity and worship Jesus together, especially as we approach Christmas,” he added.
St. Anthony of Padua’s invitation which appeared in Sunday’s parish bulletin was in the same spiritual vein. “Join us as we prepare for the coming of Emanuel. It’s truly a spiritual experience you won’t want to miss,” the announcement stated.
The service is open to the public. St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church hosted the first of this annual event last year with church pastor, Father Patrick Walker and Pastor Hauser laying the groundwork for what they envisioned to be a community-wide ecumenical prayer service. Thursday’s service is a continuation of what is being hoped as a lasting annual tradition.
“Feedback (from last year’s Taize) had been very positive so these services will continue as more and more people become familiar with this unique style of worship,” Hauser explained, adding, “Future services will be at other churches in town and we look forward to working with any church that might be interested.”
Simple prayerful music, called Taize songs, coupled with simple worship setting — a plain wooden cross surrounded by vigil candles is commonly used — plus spiritual readings and prayers by the people attending are the hallmarks of this prayer service.
Taize started in 1940 at the beginning of World War II when Brother Roger established a place of safety in the small French village of Taize where people going through the war ordeal could come for shelter. Taize soon evolved into a community of prayer “where trust and reconciliation could be opened up among the Christian and human family,” explains the announcement in St. Anthony of Padua’s Sunday parish bulletin which tells the story of Taize prayer.
“As the Community grew, they saw that they needed a new, more accessible way of praying. Visitors spoke many different languages, and the question was: how can everyone be united in prayer?
“The fruit of this collaboration, which ripened over the years, was the ‘Taize songs,’ made up of a simple phrase repeated again and again. Easy to learn and easy to sing, each one expresses a basic reality that can be quickly grasped by the intelligence and little by little sink in and penetrate one’s whole being.”
The Taize community today is comprised of more than 100 brothers, Catholics as well as from other Protestant backgrounds, from 25 countries.