In the 1960s winds of change swept the church as well as society. City population declined sharply, including that of Minneapolis. With it went the membership of inner-city churches. Civil rights and peace movements weighed on everyone’s consciences.
Ancient languages of the church came under criticism, as new biblical translations and archeological discoveries opened new horizons of faithful understanding for many church people. A study for revision of the hymnal and prayer book began in 1967. 1970 led to introduction of a new prayer book for trial use. More than a decade of work toward changes in the hymnal was proposed at the 1982 General Convention.
St. Paul’s did not use the trial prayer book immediately. Responding to demands in 1968 of young parishioners, the Rev. Steinberg agreed to a new service with a contemporary-style liturgy. With guidance of a lay committee, a series of liturgies was prepared for use in the service. Also, a number of special programs were provided in the main service, including a jazz mass.
The contemporary service eventually became a firm fixture. Both new and old members attended. Some were regulars, others attended some weeks, and others attended the traditional service. Guitars and other string instruments accompanied singing of upbeat contemporary songs. A small booklet was assembled of these songs, and was also used at our Camp Lawton. Two services were provided: one at 9:00 am in the small dining room, and a later one in the Undercroft — primarily for families.
The nature of the liturgy was a continuing struggle for many. New prayer books were in trial use for more than eight years. The revised book was officially adopted at General Convention in Denver in 1979. Rite One liturgy provided language alternatives closer to the old 1928 model, but many found the 1928 book a better expression of their faith and inspiration for daily living. It remained a difficult issue in the church and for some in Saint Paul’s, as the parish entered its second century.
There are still a few of us around who were a part of the contemporary services, if you are interested in hearing about them. We also have some of the song books that were used. St. Paul’s Parish has much history!!