Bulletins with Sidebars – An Instructed Eucharist Every Week!

Bulletins with Sidebars – An Instructed Eucharist Every Week!

Long time Episcopalians have commented on how much they appreciate the information contained in those sidebars, and visitors remark on the clarity and helpfulness of the information.

The Challenge of Teaching Liturgy

I love our liturgy. I love teaching about it, presiding over it, and watching it work in people’s lives. But it is difficult to find times to help people go deeper into it. You can do the occasional Instructed Eucharist, you can teach on it during Confirmation or Newcomer classes, but you still miss many people and don’t deliver the information when they need it the most. The first time someone comes to your church and joins in, they are curious about the service. They may not know why the congregation is doing what they are, or what is expected of them. It is not clear who to ask questions of, or when. You can’t always have the perfect member to sit next to them and quietly whisper explanations!

Bulletins That Teach

We were already doing a full bulletin (all the text but not the hymns) when I came across a bulletin with sidebars that serve as instructions and realized that would be a perfect addition. I can teach and instruct on an as-needed basis. The people who are with us each week don’t worry about the text off to the side, while newcomers and visitors are able to get at least some of their questions answered during the service, and they are shown that we are interested in answering questions. 

Long time Episcopalians who have worshiped with us have commented to me how much they appreciate the information contained in those sidebars, and that they have learned something from the explanations. Visitors seem less confused and remark on the clarity and helpfulness of the information. 

I started with text from another church and modified it to fit our customs and to answer the questions I had gotten in the past. Much of the material is pulled from a variety of Instructed Eucharist materials I have collected over the years. You are welcome to borrow any of the text I have used. The sidebars are generic enough that we don’t make changes from week to week.  Some seasons I add information specific to that season. We do adjust the spacing so that the information is lined up correctly with the corresponding items in the liturgy. 

I see these sidebars as a continuation of our welcome to newcomers and our formation of members. I hope they are helpful to you too! Here are two example bulletins from St. David’s:
Season after Pentecost, Holy Communion
Season after Pentecost, Holy Communion & Baptism

The Rev. Katie (Catherine) Wright is a practical mystic fed by a sense of Joy and Wonder in all God’s Works, and love of getting stuff done. She has been ordained for over a decade, parenting and married for over 2 decades, and is relishing it all! She ministers at St David’s, Austin, TX.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Gregory Bloch

    Just out of curiosity, when you say you “came across a bulletin with sidebars,” where exactly did you come across it?

  2. Molly Carnes

    Love this sooooo much! I often sit with newcomers and give them the “VIP backstage tour” which means I am whispering many of these helpful notes to them during the service. People have been very appreciative of this as some of our worship can be confusing. One comment – I would explain The Offertory in a more wholistic way: First, there are conversations about how we can offer our lives to God (what some call announcements) and then we offer our resources to God (passing the plate). So, no separate section for announcements because it is all the Offertory. The first part is how we can give of our time and talent and then the next part is giving our treasure, but all is offering our lives to God. The format here you have created is wonderful. Thank you for sharing. I am an evangelism coach for the Episcopal Church. Is it okay if I share your documents with churches I am coaching?

  3. Charlotte Greeson

    Thank you Molly. Different churches have slightly different modes of practice and meaning; as editors we see our job as offering examples to the wider church to adapt as fits their needs. We love hearing how different churches adapt content!
    Yes, by all means, please share. When doing so note the original author and her church on the documents. If linking to Building Faith, we ask that you link the url for this article, not the main website. Feel free to send an email if you need more information buildfaith@vts.edu

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