Union Bethel AME Church, Great Falls, Montana, 1890-Present
*HOMECOMING/FAMILY AND FRIENDS DAY
MUSIC & WORSHP RESOURCES
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Michelle Riley Jones, Lectionary Team Liturgist
Worship Planning Notes
Church Homecoming services are special services usually set on the anniversary date of the founding of the church, although many churches may choose other dates for a variety of reasons. Services are typically themed to acknowledge those who not only founded the church but who over the years have contributed to the well-being of the church and the body of believers. The services can also be a great aid in drawing the body of believers closer to God, one another, and the church.
These services can also be a wonderful time to “Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ,” as Homecoming is the perfect opportunity for one to bring a friend to church where he or she may experience the love of Christ in the proclamation of the Gospel, in the welcome, and in the fellowship. Homecoming is a time in which that friend’s story may become entangled with our own as a shared aspect of our lives in Christ and the love of Christ we will all experience in various intimate ways.
Homecoming is a time that also gives rise to images of getting back to business—to be renewed and refreshed, ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to the business of evangelism, discipleship, and worship. It means we’ve been strengthened for the tasks that are ahead of us and the various communities of faith in which we find ourselves.
Homecoming also gives rise to the image of a loving God with arms of welcome opened wide to the daughters and sons created in God’s image and in whom the image of God resides. Arms that are always ready to embrace the wounded, the broken, the stranger, the joyful, the mournful, and all others. No matter what, God always welcomes us home. In Jesus we always find the familiar, and the Holy Spirit guides us and gathers us in. As Christians we have a “Godly heritage rooted in deep soil.” And like the psalmist we can say, “I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Keep in mind that for some these services can be both a joyous and sad experience. For some, their parents may have died and their old home has been sold—they no longer have a “home” to come to. For others, it may also be a place of some painful memories—broken marriages/families, differences not reconciled, etc. Or, many may have lived away longer than they lived in their hometown. A lot happens in that time and it gets harder for people to know what to expect when they do return.
Music for this day should be celebratory! Incorporate favorite old and new songs of the church throughout the service, both in choir/ensemble presentations and in the congregational singing.
Here are some ideas for your church bulletin and screens:
Photos from the Past
Assemble photos of church gatherings and events from years past to create a homecoming bulletin cover or mini-album. Perhaps the church archives contain a photograph from the first church service or an etching of the first baptism. Any historical photographs can be scanned and used to create a peek into the history of the church and its members.
Church homecomings are usually themed to honor the founders of the church and often incorporate ideas about the founding of the Christian church. The New Testament passage Matthew 16:18, in which Jesus tells Peter he is the rock upon which the church will be built, is a good scripture to use to celebrate the founders of a church. Old photographs of the church, etchings, or drawings of the church building and quotes from founding pastors can be incorporated into the founders theme for an attractive and nostalgic bulletin.
All Christian churches are part of a larger, global community of Christians but each church is unique in history and its membership. The church homecoming bulletin can reflect this uniqueness by incorporating images and words from the church founders and other members. Incorporate a reproduction of church founding documents, like the charter, into a collage for the bulletin cover. Use scans of old newspaper clippings about church activities and important events to create a bulletin that celebrates the unique contribution of your church to the community and its service to the members.
1. Litany, Responsive Reading or Invocation
Call to Worship
Lord, we have come, your people gathered in this place of our Godly heritage, to meet You today!
The LORD says:
Celebrate and sing for Israel, the greatest of nations.
Offer praises and shout,
“Come and rescue your people, LORD! Save what’s left of Israel.”
I, the LORD, will bring
my people back from Babylonia and everywhere else on earth.
The blind and the lame will be there.
Expectant mothers and women about to give birth
will come and be part of that great crowd.
The will weep and pray as I bring them home.
I will lead them to streams of water.
They will walk on a level road and not stumble.
I am a father to Israel, my favorite children.
Listen to me, you nations nearby or across the sea.
I scattered the people of Israel,
but I will gather them again.
I will protect them like a shepherd guarding a flock.
Welcome home, family of God! Today we will delight together in the presence of our Father God!
You’ve Been a Mighty Good God! (for Homecoming Day)
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
We have returned today, from the North and the South, the East and the West,
from city and from hillside, to the church of our formative years.
And we have come thanking and praising God for bringing us a mighty long way. Let the people of the Lord say:
Hallelujah! You’ve been a mighty good God!
You have protected us from many dangers, seen and unseen.
You have provided, and sometimes you have taken away.
You have lifted us up. And sometimes we have been cast down—but never destroyed.
Let the people of the Lord say:
Hallelujah! You’ve been a mighty good God!
We remember this place of our Godly heritage, where many of us first found the Lord.
We remember this place of our family of believers, where many of us first called a family of God.
We remember this place of our fellowship sweet, where many of us first sat at Your welcome table.
where all the questions are answered;
Let the people of the Lord say:
Hallelujah! You’ve been a mighty good God! Thank you for bringing us back home today. We are the family of our God. You’ve been a mighty good God! You’ve been a mighty good God indeed!
(a) We’ve Come to Praise the Lord. By David R. Curry, Jr.
(b) Come Let Us Sing/He Is Exalted. By David Baroni and Twila Paris
(c) Lord, We Have Come (Live). By Wayne Bucknor
(d) Jesus You Are Welcome. By Geron Davis
(e) Grace and Peace. By Charlene Moore Cooper
(f) Blessing in the Love. By Charlene Moore Cooper
(g) Welcome to the Village. By Leon Lewis
2. Hymns and Congregational Songs (a) Marching to Zion. By Isaac Watts and Robert Lowry. Tune, (MARCHING TO ZION), by Robert Lowry
(b) Standing on the Promises. Text and Tune, (PROMISES), by R. Kelso Carter
(c) Come, Christians, Join to Sing. By Christian Henry Bateman. Tune, (MADRID), Arr. by David Evans
(d) Hold On to God’s Unchanging Hand. By Jennie Wilson
(e) My Faith Looks Up to Thee. By Ray Palmer. Tune, (OLIVET), by Lowell Mason
(f) ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. By Louisa M.R. Stead. Tune by William J. Kirkpatrick
(g) Amazing Grace. By John Newton
3. Spirituals or Traditional Songs
(a) Hold On. Spiritual. Arr. by Jester Harrison. For SATBB choir
(b) My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord. Spiritual. Arr. by Glenn Jones. For SATB, a capella
(c) Git on Board. Spiritual
4. Gospel Songs for Choirs, Ensembles, or Praise Teams Praise Team
(a) God Almighty. By Paul Avery
(b) Praise in the House. By Deitrick Haddon
(c) He Is Great. By Tony Wilkins
(d) O’Come. By Wayne Bucknor
(e) Great God. By Israel Houghton and Ricardo Sanzhez
Songs for Choirs
(f) Walking Up the King’s Highway. Text and Tune, (KING’S HIGHWAY), by Mary Gardner and Thomas Dorsey
(g) He’s Been Just That Good. By Ricky Dillard
(h) Blessings. By John P. Kee
(i) Trust and Obey. By Bruce Seawood
(j) Hold On to God’s Unchanging Hand. By Jennie Wilson
(k) Something about the Name Jesus, Pt. 2. By Kirk Franklin
5. Liturgical Dance Music
(a) We Acknowledge You. By Donald Lawrence
(b) For Every Mountain. By Kurt Carr
(c) Se Baba. (Thank You Father). Nigerian Praise Song
6. Anthems (a) Let Mount Zion Rejoice. By J. B. Herbert
(b) God Our Help in Ages Past. By Isaac Watts. Music by Rhonda Woodard. For SATB choir, a capella
(c) All for Thee. By Frances R. Havergal. Music by Henri A. Cesar Malan. Arr. by Jack Schrader
(d) Come, Christians Join to Sing! By Benjamin Harlan. With optional trumpets, French horn, trombone, and timpani
(e) Close to Thee. By Fanny J. Crosby. Tune, (CLOSE TO THEE), by Silas Vail
7. Modern Songs
(a) God Has Smiled on Me. By Andraé Crouch
(b) One Blood. By Vidal Davis, Deitrick Haddon, and Andre Harris
(c) Forever Always. By Aaro Lindsey and Martha Munizzi
(d) Oh Happy Day (Live Version). By Edwin Hawkins
8. Offertory Song or Instrumental
(a) Standing on the Promises. By Daryl Coley
(b) I Will Give Thanks Unto Thee, O Lord. By Gioachino Rossini. For SATB choral
(c) Hallelujah Song. By Donnie McClurkin
(d) Been So Good. By Shawn McLemore
9. Song or Instrumental for Period of Prayer
(a) Lord, I’m Coming Home. By William J. Kirkpatrick
(b) Daily I Will Worship Thee. By Curtiss Glenn
(c) At the Altar. By Kirk Franklin
(d) Come Unto Him All Ye That Labor. By Janice Chandler-Eteme
(e) Trust Me. By Richard Smallwood
(f) Prayer of Jesus. By Jaime Jorge and John Stoddart. Instrumental
(g) The Lord’s Prayer. By Melvin Crispell
10. Sermonic Selection (a) Under His Wings. By Steven Manders
(b) One World One Love. By Curtiss Boone and Eric Morgenson
(c) We Worship You. By Richard Smallwood
(d) Faithful Is Our God. By Brandon Camphor
11. Invitational Song or Instrumental
(a) These Are They. By Bill Gaither
(b) Medley: We Have This Hope/When He Cometh.
(c) Hallelujah, Thine the Glory (Revive Us Again). By William P. Mackay
(d) Thy Kingdom Come. By Kirk Whalum
(e) We Praise You O’ Lord. By David Frazier
12. Benediction Song or Instrumental
(a) Dismiss Us, Lord, with Blessing. Text and Tune, (BLESSING), by L. E. Froom
(b) Benediction. By Stephen Hurd
(c) Homecoming Glory. By Alvin Love
(d) He’ll Welcome Me Medley. By John P. Kee
(e) Siyahamba (We Are Marching). South African Folk Song
(f) He Leadeth Me. By Joseph H. Gilmore. Tune, (HE LEADETH ME), by William B. Bradbury
Cites and Additional Information for Music and Material Listed
*The song that accompanies today’s image is titled “The Old Landmark,” which was written by William Herbert Brewster. Here is it sung by Clara Ward and the Clara Ward Singers.