Here is an article I have pre-written for my church’s newsletter next week concerning my trip to Taize:
A South Georgia Methodist in the Monastery Court
“How would your wife feel if you went out of town for 12 days in August?” Thus I was invited to spend a portion of the summer with members of the South Georgia Conference in the small village of Taize (pronounced te-zaye) with the brothers of the Taize monastic community (read: monks). The purpose of this trip is to encourage young adults throughout the conference to attend this tour in the future and to share our experiences with local churches. It is an honor to be entrusted with this responsibility and an honor to have the South Georgia Conference fund my way on this “pilgrimage.”
We began our trip on July 31st with a flight from Jacksonville to JFK in New York City. We flew from there to London, England. We not only saw some of the great London sites, such as Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, but we also found ourselves steeped in Wesleyan tradition. We visited City Road Chapel, the site of John Wesley’s home and grave, the burial site of Susanna Wesley, and Aldersgate Street where Wesley found his “heart strangely warmed.”
Since Sunday, we have been in the Burgundy region of France (towards the south-east) at the Taize Community. Some of us are staying in rustic dorms and others of us are staying in tents outside. We begin our morning at 8:15am with morning prayer and breakfast followed by reflection or small group discussion. We have midday prayer at 12:20 followed by lunch, small group discussions, workshops, chores and dinner. We have evening prayer and vigil followed by night silence until we fall asleep. Believe it or not, this is an amazing experience!
One of the hallmarks of the Taize community is its worship. Many people who have heard of Taize have been introduced by its worship music. The music is built around short, repetitive phrases that are sung in Latin. Why Latin? During a typical summer week, there may be 6,000 people from all over the world. The brothers decided that Latin held no allegiance to a particular culture and would be a way to stress our unity as Christian believers. There is no sermon at a Taize worship service; these services are characterized by the reading of scripture, silence, and prayer. Through this experience we commune with God and we listen to God. The music, prayers, introspection, and environments are influencing worship all over the world, especially in young adult circles. I should return to the United States on August 11th (probably not in time to attend church council—sorry Robert!).
I hope to share about this life-changing experience sometime soon with a special presentation. Until then, thank you so much for your continued prayers for my family and my safety.