Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the Anniversary Celebrations of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Ireland, representing the Irish Council of Churches.
I arrived at the church in West Dublin as preparations were still being made, with decorations being hung in the room and food and drinks placed around the lectern, in a similar fashion to the harvest celebrations in my own church. While I waited for the celebrations to begin I was also provided with food and drink myself and welcomed wholeheartedly by Mother Agnes Aderanti, who leads the church.
The ceremony began with a procession led by two young people carrying a cross up the aisle whilst moving in synchrony with the music, followed by the church leaders. Everyone, including those in the congregation, was dancing, and dressed in white from head to toe. Many wore a sash with the verse “I have set the Lord always before me” on it (from Psalm 16:8). The overall effect was powerful: everyone had made a great effort to prepare for the occasion and people were there to rejoice and give thanks for God’s provision for them individually and as a church worshipping together in Ireland for the last 19 years.
The music was amazing – led by singers and four percussionists playing different types of drums. Their playing was symbiotic – each seemed to anticipate the others’ next move and the energy levels were powerful. There were several readings from the Bible and Mother Agnes preached. Later there was an “Hour of Prayer” which was led by several people and involved the use of incense, music and dance. The whole event was clearly ordered, yet left room for spontaneity and for responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to prayer, word or song.
Children and young people were involved throughout. The young children joined in the singing and dancing, whilst older girls sang in the choir and led the prayers during the hour of prayer. Some had specific roles to play during the singing: a child or teenager was stationed at the end of each row of seats and they danced in a synchronised way to each song. The scripture readings were done by young people. Some of the teenage boys had specific roles in carrying the cross in the processions and one was stationed at the altar throughout the afternoon.
Women are very much to the fore in leadership – in addition to Mother Agnes, there was a special seating area to one side for the senior ladies of the church, whilst the leading men were seated behind the lectern. All of them, men and women, played an active role in the proceedings – leading us in song or prayer.
I was able to bring greetings from the ICC as I was invited to the front to address the gathering as were other guests. It was a wonderful experience to share in the celebration and to rejoice with our sisters and brothers in C&S. I’m already looking forward to the 20th Anniversary!