A Sample Participatory Interfaith Service
Quiet music is playing as people enter, either live by a guitarist, harpists or pianist, or recorded. Lighting can be full at first, and then lowered during the Memorial Moments, to allow the candles to be more prominent (optional).
5:30 - Welcome & Announcements - explain format, participation & timing: encourage attendees to briefly share prayers, words of encouragement, poems, or readings from their own faith tradition,
5:35 - Invocation (words or prayer, then a Jewish song may be sung or taught) a Jewish Rabbi
5:40 - Song - (words on screen or program; can be done without accompaniment, with guitar or piano, but quiet songs should be familiar to most people or easy to learn; led informally by an appointed song leader; examples Precious Lord, Take my Hand, or Amazing Grace)
5:43 - Attendees' Open Sharing - Readings, Poems, Scriptures, Thoughts (2-3 min each)
6:00 - Introduction to Memorial Moments - (a leader invites attendees to remember or honor a loved one impacted by mental illness by coming forward, speaking their name into the mic', lighting a battery-powered candle, and taking a stone from the table. The leader reads a short, fitting poem or paragraph and then begins the Memorial Moments)
6:03 - Memorial Moments - (quiet music playing, as people come forward)
6:10 - Prayer of St. Francis (after everyone is finished, Leader invites everyone to read in unison words from screen or program)
6:12 - Song (led informally by song leader, words on screen or program)
6:15 - Open Sharing - Readings, Poems, Scriptures, meditations (2-3 min. each)
6:30 - Closing Comments & Benediction - (Representative from the Muslim community)
6:35 - Closing Song - (Example - May the Lord, Mighty God (Tune: Edelweiss)
Planning Notes: Leaders and participants from as many faith traditions as live in the community should be invited in advance (See examples—Native America, Sikh, Muslim, Catholic, Jewish and various Christian denominations.)
Set up Notes:
- Move chairs around a center table in two or three semi-circular rows, leaving an aisle at each quarter circle.
- In front (if using power point for service order and song words) screen, data projector, laptop & flash drive; computer for playing quiet music as people enter and leave.
- On the center table: Flowers, battery-powered, candles, small clear stones.
Notes from the 2014 Convention Interfaith Service.
About 75 attended. After a welcome & introduction of the format, Rabbi Dov Gartenberg opened with an invocation and song. Interwoven throughout the service, other familiar songs, readings and prayers were led with words on the screen.
At least 1/2 of attendees shared a song, poem, reading or word of encouragement; many faith traditions were represented. 4-5 people had previously agreed to offer a 2-3 minute scripture, word of encouragement or prayer.
We offered Moments of Remembrance in honor of Bill & Bonnie Kinschner (former NFN Advisory Group members), and then during a candle lighting vigil, attendees were invited to come to the mic', name a the person they are honoring or remembering, and "light" a candle, and take a ston.
We closed with a spoken and sung benediction. This participatory nature created a powerful sense of unity and "holy ground". Local affiliate members provided the beautiful flower centerpiece, battery- powered candles, stones and helped with semi-circular set up.