Chapter 4. Ordering Worship for Special Purposes

4.1 Other Sunday Services

The primary service of worship on Sunday is the Service for the Lord's Day, scheduled at the time(s) when most members can participate. Other services may be regularly scheduled on Sunday. The time and nature of these services is to be determined by the Session/Parish Council as it considers the needs of the congregation and the community. In planning these services, care should be taken to preserve the integrity of the Service for the Lord's Day.

4.2 Special Occasions and Recognitions

There are special occasions and transitions in the life of the congregation and the lives of its members which are appropriately recognised in worship. Many of these are ordinarily included at particular points in the Service for the Lord's Day. Some may be observed in the Service for the Lord's Day and some in a service especially appointed for the occasion. No special recognitions should be included in the Service for the Lord's Day when they would diminish the importance of hearing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments.

4.3 Services of Welcome and Reception

4.3.1 Baptism and Membership

In Baptism a person is sealed by the Holy Spirit, given identity as a member of the Church, welcomed to the Lord's Table, and set apart for a life of Christian service. These aspects of Baptism are given further expression in worship through welcoming the baptised to the Lord's Table, reaffirming or renewing the baptismal covenant, and receiving new members. These occasions are ordinarily observed in the Service for the Lord's Day in responding to the Word.

4.3.2 Welcoming to the Lord's Table

It is the responsibility of the whole congregation, particularly exercised through the Session/Parish Council to nurture those who are baptised to respond to the invitation to the Lord's Supper. When a person is baptised as a child, the Session/Parish Council shall equip and support the parent(s) or those exercising parental responsibility for their task of nurturing the child for receiving the Lord's Supper.

4.3.3 Renewing the Baptismal Covenant

The Church nurtures those baptised as children and calls them to make public their personal profession of faith and their acceptance of responsibility in the life of the Church. When the Session/Parish Council determines that these persons are ready, they shall be presented to the congregation during a service of public worship. In that service the church shall renew the baptismal covenant and confirm them in their baptismal identity by having them:

i. profess their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour,

ii. renounce evil and affirm their reliance on God's grace,

iii. declare their intention to participate actively and responsibly in the worship and mission of the Church.

They are commissioned for full participation in the mission and governing of the Church and are welcomed by the congregation.

4.3.4 Reception of Other Members

The service for the reception of members into a congregation by transfer of certificate or by reaffirmation of faith is an occasion to recall one's earlier Baptism, profession of faith, and commitment to discipleship. After reception by the Session/Parish Council, these new members shall be recognised at a service of public worship. It is appropriate for them to make public again their profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and to express their intention to participate actively in the worship and mission of the Church. They are welcomed into the life of the congregation and are commissioned for service as members.

4.3.5    Reaffirmation by All

On each occasion when people entering membership in a particular church make public their profession of faith, it is appropriate for all baptised worshippers formally to reaffirm their membership in the baptised community.

4.3.6 Renewal and Fresh Commitment

In the life of a believer there are times of special awakening, renewal, and fresh commitment which call for public expression, recognition, and celebration. People can be encouraged to share with the minister, their elder, the Session/Parish Council and/or with the congregation these decisive moments and stirrings of the Holy Spirit. It may sometimes be appropriate for people to make public this sense of deepened commitment in a service of worship and for the Church to acknowledge it with prayer and thanksgiving. The rite of renewal may be used.

4.3.7 Enacting Welcome and Recognition

In such services the welcoming, recognising, commissioning, and acknowledging should be expressed in actions as well as in words. Appropriate actions may include

i. sharing the peace of Christ,

ii. offering the hand of fellowship,

iii. laying on of hands,

iv. anointing,

v. embracing,

and other acts of recognition and celebration appropriate to the culture(s) of the participants.

4.4 Commissioning for Specific Acts and Forms of Discipleship

4.4.1 Recognising Acts of Discipleship

In the life of the Christian community God calls people to particular acts of discipleship to use their personal gifts for service in the Church and in the world. These specific acts may be strengthened and confirmed by formal recognition in worship.

4.4.2 Recognising Forms of Discipleship

Discipleship may be expressed

i. through service in the local church,

ii. on behalf of the local church through its ministry in and to the community,

iii. in the wider Church, and

iv. beyond the Church co-operating with others who work for justice, compassion and reconciliation.

4.4.3 Recognition and Commissioning

Recognition and commissioning of people called to such acts and forms of discipleship may occur in the Service for the Lord's Day as a response to the proclamation of the Word. Recognising and commissioning for specific forms of discipleship may also occur in services of worship provided for that purpose or in special services.

4.5 Licensing, Ordination and Induction

4.5.1 Licensing

In licensing the Presbytery sets apart with prayer those candidates for the ministry of word and sacrament who have completed the course of study and the prescribed trials required by the General Assembly.

4.5.2 Ordination and Induction

In ordination the Church sets apart with prayer and the laying on of hands those who have been called by the Church to serve as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament. In induction the Church sets apart with prayer those previously ordained to the office of deacon, elder, or minister of the Word and Sacrament, and called anew to service in that office.

4.5.3 Setting of the Service

The service of ordination and induction may take place during the Service of the Lord's Day as a response to the proclamation of the Word or in a special service.

4.5.4 Form and order

The form and order of service will be contained in the Book of Order.

4.6 Transitions in Ministry

4.6.1 Recognition of Transition

When those especially commissioned for specific forms of discipleship; those ordained as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament; or others serving in the church conclude a period of ministry, it is appropriate for the congregation and others associated with the ministry to recognise those persons' gifts and service.

4.6.2 Form of Recognition

This recognition may be given in the Service for the Lord's Day or in another appointed service of worship. The service may include expressions of commendation and gratitude for the persons' ministry, and should include prayers of thanksgiving and intercession on their behalf as they make this transition in their ministry.

4.7 Recognition of Service to the Community

Service given to the community beyond the particular mission of the local Church may be appropriately recognised as an expression of Christian discipleship with prayer and thanksgiving at a suitable time in an occasion of worship. Significant accomplishments in people's lives and other forms of recognition received by them may also be occasions for such celebration with the community of faith.

4.8 Services of Acceptance and Reconciliation

4.8.1 Brokenness and Wholeness

Christians are forgiven sinners living in a sinful world, involved in brokenness which they suffer, involved in brokenness which they cause. Given this reality, a significant move toward wholeness is the recognition and acknowledgement of one's own responsibility in the brokenness and failure of a relationship

i. in friendship and in marriage,

ii. in family and in Church,

iii. in workplace and in school,

iv. in neighbourhood, in community, and in the wider world.

4.8.2 Services of Acceptance and Reconciliation

Beyond this the Christian community must recognise and acknowledge its involvement in sin, in broken structures, and in broken relationships. Opportunity is appropriately given in worship for special services of acknowledgement and recognition of failure in relationships, of grieving together over the loss of relationship, of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation within the believing community, and of eventual healing.

4.9 Services for Wholeness

4.9.1 Healing Services

Healing was an integral part of the ministry of Jesus which the Church has been called to continue as one dimension of its concern for the wholeness of people. Through services for wholeness, the church enacts in worship its ministry as a healing community.

4.9.2 Authorisation

Services for wholeness are to be authorised by the Session/Parish Council and shall be under the direction of the minister. Such services may be observed as regularly scheduled services of worship, as occasional services, or as part of the Service for the Lord's Day. These services should be open to all and not restricted to those desiring healing for themselves or for others of special concern to them. The services should be held in the regular place of worship or in a place readily accessible to those who may be seeking healing.

4.9.3 Forms of Prayer

The vital element of worship in the service for wholeness is prayer since this is essentially a time of waiting in faith upon God. Thanksgiving for God's promise of wholeness, intercessions, and supplications should be offered. Adequate time for silent prayer should be provided, as well as occasions for prayers spoken and sung. Enacted prayer in the form of the laying on of hands and anointing with oil is appropriate (James 5:14.)

4.9.4 Word and Sacrament

These prayers are a response to the Word read and proclaimed. Particular focus should be on announcing the gospel's promise of wholeness through Christ. The sealing of this promise in the Lord's Supper may be celebrated, and should follow the prayers and the laying on of hands. Occasion for offering one's life and gifts for ministry may be provided, as well as opportunities for reconciliation and renewed commitment to the service of Jesus Christ in the world.

4.9.5 Source of Healing

When a service for wholeness includes anointing and the laying on of hands, these enacted prayers should be introduced carefully in order to avoid misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Healing is to be understood not as the result of the holiness, earnestness, or skill of those enacting the prayers, or of the faith of the ones seeking healing, but as the gift of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

4.10 Services for Evangelism

4.10.1 Invitations to Discipleship

The invitation to respond to Jesus Christ should be offered frequently and regularly in the Service for the Lord's Day. It is appropriate for the Session/Parish Council to authorise services for the particular purpose of evangelism, and to set such services at regular seasons.

4.10.2 Order

The central element of worship in services for evangelism is the proclamation of the Word, with a special emphasis on the redeeming grace of God in Christ, the claim Jesus Christ makes on human life, and his invitation to a life of discipleship empowered by the Holy Spirit. This proclamation involves

i. the reading and hearing of Scripture.

ii. preaching and witness,

iii. the Word sung, enacted, and confessed.

Surrounding this central act should be prayer,

iv. in preparation for the services;

v. in the service itself as praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and supplication;

vi. following the service that the new disciples be supported in their commitment and vitally included in the life of the church.

In designing services of evangelism to suit the particular needs of the people attending these elements may be arranged or presented in a variety of ways.

4.10.3 Commitment

It is appropriate that the service move to a clear invitation to commitment or renewed commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and to life in the covenant community which is Christ's body, the Church. Such commitment is a sign of grace and an act of self-offering which should issue in

i. new relationship to one another,

ii. new awareness of one's gifts for ministry,

iii. new involvement in the redemptive activity of Christ in the world.

4.10.4 Responses to New Commitment

Those who respond to the invitation shall be offered nurture and instruction to support them in their commitment and to equip them for the life of discipleship. Those who are making their first commitment shall make public the profession of their faith during a Service for the Lord's Day, with those who have not been baptised receiving Baptism in that service. Those who are renewing a commitment shall be given opportunity for public acknowledgement of their reaffirmation during a Service for the Lord's Day.

4.11 Marriage

4.11.1 Introduction

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. Christian marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a commitment for life is made by a woman and a man to each other, publicly witnessed before God and acknowledged by the community of faith.

4.11.2 Preparing for Marriage

In preparation for the marriage service, the minister asked to lead the service shall provide for a discussion with the man and the woman concerning

i. their free desire to enter this relationship,

ii. the nature of Christian commitment,

iii. the legal requirements,

iv. the privileges and responsibilities of marriage,

v. the nature and form of the marriage service,

vi. the vows and commitments they will be asked to make,

vii. the relationship of these commitments to the life of discipleship,

viii. the resources of the faith and the Christian community to assist them in fulfilling their marriage commitments.

This discussion is equally important in the case of a first marriage, a marriage after the death of a spouse, and a marriage following divorce.

4.11.3 If the Marriage is Unwise

If the minister is convinced after discussion with the couple that the marriage is unwise, the minister shall assure the couple of the Church's continuing concern for them and not conduct the ceremony. In making this decision the minister may seek the counsel of the Session/Parish Council and/or others.

4.11.4 Time and Place of Service

It is appropriate that marriage be celebrated in the place where the community gathers for worship. As a service of Christian worship, the marriage service is under the direction of the minister and the supervision of the Session/Parish Council. The marriage ordinarily takes place in a special service which focuses upon marriage as a gift of God and the life of marriage as an offering to God. Celebration of the Lord's Supper at the marriage service requires the approval of the Session/Parish Council, and care shall be taken that the invitation to the Table is extended to all who may wish to respond. The marriage service may take place during the Service for the Lord's Day upon authorisation by the Session/Parish Council. It should be placed in the order as a response to the proclamation of the Word. It may then be followed by the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

4.11.5 Form and Order of Service

The service begins with a brief statement of purpose. The man and the woman shall declare their intention to enter into Christian marriage and shall exchange vows of love and faithfulness. The service includes appropriate passages of Scripture, which may be interpreted in various forms of proclamation. Prayers shall be offered for the couple, for the communities which support them, and for all who live in relationships. In the name of the triune God the minister shall declare publicly that the woman and the man are now joined in marriage. The couple shall sign the marriage register. A charge and/or sermon may be given. Other actions common to the community and its cultures may appropriately be observed when these actions do not diminish the Christian understanding of marriage. The service concludes with a benediction.

4.11.6 Music and Appointments

Music suitable for the marriage service directs attention to God and expresses the faith of the church. The congregation may join in hymns and other musical forms of praise and prayer. Flowers, decorations, and other appointments should be appropriate to the place of worship, enhance the worshippers' consciousness of the reality of God, and reflect the integrity and simplicity of Christian life.

4.11.7 Recognising Civil Marriage

A service of worship recognising a civil marriage and confirming it in the community of faith may be appropriate when requested by the couple. The service will be similar to the marriage service except that the opening statement, the declaration of intention, the exchange of the vows by the husband and wife, and the public declaration by the minister reflect the fact that the woman and man are already married to one another according to the laws of the state.

4.12 Services on the Occasion of Death

4.12.1 Christians and Death

The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians' attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief but may also be an occasion for thanksgiving. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The Church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve.

4.12.2 Planning Arrangements

Because it is difficult under emotional stress to plan wisely, the Session/Parish Council should encourage people to discuss and plan in advance the arrangements which will be necessary at the time of death, including decisions about the options of burial, cremation, or donation for medical purposes. The Session/Parish Council is responsible for establishing general policies concerning services on the occasion of death.

4.12.3 Setting of the Service

It is appropriate that the service on the occasion of a death of a member of the congregation be held in the usual place of worship in order to join this service to the community's continuing life and witness to the resurrection. The service shall be under the direction of the minister. Others may be invited to participate in the service at the discretion of the minister and with the concurrence of the next of kin. This service may be observed on any day. A request to observe such a service as a part of the Lord's Day service or to celebrate the Lord's Supper as a part of a service on the occasion of death should be discussed and approved by the Session/Parish Council.

4.12.4 Form and Order

The service may begin with scriptural sentences and a brief statement of purpose. It is appropriate for worshippers to sing hymns, psalms, or spiritual songs. Scripture shall be read; a sermon or other exposition of the Word may be proclaimed; an affirmation of faith may be made by the people. Aspects of the life of the one who has died may be recalled. Prayers may be offered, giving thanks to God

i. for life in Jesus Christ and the promise of the gospel,

ii. for the gift of the life of the one who has died,

iii. for the comfort of the Holy Spirit,

iv. for the community of faith;

making intercessions

v. for family members and loved ones who grieve,

vi. for those who minister to and support the bereaved,

vii. for all who suffer loss;


viii. for faith and grace for all who are present;

ix. including the Lord's Prayer.

The service ends by commending the one who has died to the care of the eternal God and sending the people forth with a benediction.

4.12.5 Alternatives and Options

This service may be observed before or after the committal of the body. The service may include other actions common to the community of faith and its cultures when these actions do not detract from or diminish the Christian understanding of death and resurrection. It is appropriate that the service be complete in itself, and any fraternal, civic, or military rites be conducted separately. There are circumstances where this might not be possible. When there are reasons not to hold the service in the usual place of worship, it may be held in another suitable place such as a home, a funeral home, a crematorium, a marae if it is not the usual place of worship, or graveside.

4.12.6 Service of Committal

The service of committal should be conducted with simplicity, dignity, and brevity. The service may include readings from Scripture, prayers, words of committal, and a blessing, reflecting the reality of death, entrusting the one who has died to the care of God and bearing witness to faith in the resurrection from the dead.

4.12.7 Prayers in a house after death: Te Tikanga Karakia mo te Takahi Whare

At the earliest possible time after the funeral service, the minister or duly authorised lay person may lead the bereaved family and friends back through the home of the person who has died. In this way the house is claimed again for the holy task of living, often with the sprinkling of water in each room. A meal may be shared.

4.12.8 The Committal of Ashes

After a cremation, it is appropriate to mark the reverent disposal of ashes in a dignified way. This may include a service of worship at the place where the ashes are to be interred.

4.12.9 The Unveiling of a Memorial: Te Tikanga Karakia mo te Hura Kohatu me te Whakatapu Tohu Whakamaharatanga

Te Hura Kohatu marks the placing of the memorial stone and brings the family together to renew their bond once more, symbolising a new beginning. It normally takes place about a year after the death.

4.12.10 Other gatherings

In the life of a congregation people may gather for prayer, study, or other reasons in a number of settings. In congregations there are often special groups constituted by age, gender, or interest which meet regularly. Worship should ordinarily occur in these gatherings and may take account of the principles of this Directory.