Worship for a Year of Approaching Change 

Stephen Hassett headshot

By the Rev. Stephen Hassett (DMin ‘16, MDiv ‘06) 

For generations, the students, staff, and faculty of CDSP have gathered for common prayer in All Saints’ Chapel.  

Chapel has always served a dual purpose: providing a daily cursus of prayer for the seminary community, and serving as a practical-pedagogical counterpart to classroom instruction in liturgics. The CDSP community has worshiped and learned alongside one another in celebrations of the Eucharist and Daily Office, and by the liturgical recognition of special events in the life of the school. 

The 2023–2024 academic year will be another such year of worshiping and learning together. And it will include the understanding that we are praying ourselves through a historic transition. This year will be the last year of weekly use for All Saints’ Chapel by the CDSP community. 

Since the announcement this past January of the seminary’s commitment to a hybrid model of theological education, we have been asking ourselves what worship and community life will look like for this final year of our full residential program (given the very small size of the residential graduating class of 2025). 

We concluded that it made the most sense to lean into the unique pastoral character of the coming year, and emphasize that our corporate worship in the All Saints’ Chapel is primarily for the sake of nurturing the spiritual life of those who are sharing this space. There will be learning in the chapel, but our emphasis will be on prayer and the feeding of our souls in worship together. 

Given the smaller number of residential students on campus, we reduced the number of services so as not to overburden participants’ schedules with chapel leadership commitments. At the same time, the school has transformed one of the residential apartments into common space for the students, who can gather there for worship to augment what we are not able to provide in the chapel (more Daily Office services, for example).  

Thursday nights, which were once the focal point of liturgical and community life at CDSP, have taken on a different character this year. Taking advantage of the Order of Worship for Evening from the BCP (rarely used in a parish context), we have designed Thursday’s Holy Eucharist to be a more contemplative service featuring prayers, hymns, and liturgical adornments that emphasize eventide. Think lots of candles. 

In this way, rather than ramping up to the big community night meal, our students, staff, and faculty are gathered for a service that helps them slow down at the end of the day (and, for many, the end of the academic week).  

Student and faculty preaching are still featured, especially at our Tuesday morning Community Eucharist, but once per month on Thursday evenings, we also open up the homiletical space to share in the work of reflecting on the scriptures together. Saints’ commemorations and the celebration of major feasts are included periodically, and these may also serve as occasions to express some liturgical creativity. 

The Worship Committee remains part of the life of CDSP, but the group is now primarily focused on helping develop a coherent approach to liturgy and formation for the hybrid curriculum, particularly under the revisions that are now being developed as part of the seminary’s new model.  

We recognize that in this year of historic change for CDSP, our worship life can be a container within which we are able to express the range of feelings and experiences that these changes bring to the surface—both joy and sorrow, anticipation and grief—as all changes must.  

In the wisdom of our inherited tradition of beautiful, meaningful worship, we believe that all our prayers will be met graciously by our God. We trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to transform our hearts as we gather to sing songs, tell stories, share wisdom, and be renewed in blessing by the sacramental presence of Christ among us.  

If you’re in the neighborhood, please join us for worship.