This Sunday (September 16) is “Picnic Church,” Church of the Holy Communion’s annual outdoor Sunday morning 10:30 service, followed by “Dinner on the Grounds,” as we used to say in Southern country churches.
I began calling this Sunday “Picnic Church” some years ago, and the title appears to have stuck with some parishioners and staff members, bless our hearts.
The 8 a.m. service remains unchanged in Quilling Memorial Chapel because, well, it is the 8 a.m. service. The popularity of any Episcopal 8 a.m. service is based on tradition, stability and dependability, all of which are just fine.
“Picnic Church” is normally held outdoors on the front west lawn, beneath some very large trees, with a portable altar, rented chairs, casual attire, and all congregational music led by a very talented Dixieland band. However …
During construction season, there is very little lovely lawn available. “Only for a season,” as we like to say.
So, this year we are picking up “Picnic Church” and setting it down in the middle of the Nave, casual attire, Dixieland band and all. We might even have a few silk ficus trees around, just to help the mood.
Truth is, we need a safe outdoor gathering space, but at the moment, during our season of construction, we just do not have one. Therefore, we will follow my college choir’s spring tour motto of “Adjust, Adapt and Accept.” (The official motto was “Discipline, Excellence and Beauty” but changed each spring when we had to peacefully spend a week on a tour bus together.)
After the indoor “Picnic Church,” we will adjourn to the driveway and parking lot for “Dinner on the Grounds.” This, too, has been called any number of titles depending upon where and in which faith tradition we grew up: potluck, covered-dish, hotdish. The Dixieland band will play entertainment music for the dinner, and we will pause for our “Zero-K Race” and line dancing.
As usual, “Picnic Church” will be fun this year, as usual. Perhaps slightly different, but fun. And this time next year, our parish houses will gleam and glisten with all-new ministry spaces.