The Cathedral introduces “The Well” Celtic Eucharist on Sunday evenings at 5 p.m.
“Our wells have gone dry, and we seek deeper wells from our tradition that were signposted long ago. We seek the enchantment of the world, which we have lost.”
These are the words of Anglican priest and Celtic Christianity scholar the Rev. Dr. Herbert O’Driscoll. Herb O’Driscoll speaks to the human desire to connect with God in ways that are deeply rooted and true, and which hearken to our origins. He encourages Christians to return to the ancient Celtic tradition of Ireland, Scotland, and northern England, which emphasizes an awareness of God in creation and the infinite ways that God connects with us in both profound and mundane experiences. The Celtic tradition remembers that the world, is, indeed, enchanted by the flow of God’s grace.
In the fall of 2013, when hundreds of Cathedral parishioners participated in the charrettes that resulted in our Vision Action Plan, “A Future Filled with Hope,” one of the most frequently recurring sentiments was a desire for an additional weekend opportunity for worship, in addition to (and not instead of) our glorious Sunday morning Cathedral services. In each of the visioning charrettes, there was a remarkable consistency regarding what that additional worship service should and should not include. Parishioners expressed a preference for worship that is thoughtful, contemplative, and rooted in ancient Christian tradition, not a contemporary “praise and worship” service.
Members of the worship task force traveled across the country, visiting worship services of varying styles in Seattle, Boston, Richmond, Roanoke, and Austin. Ultimately, the task force concluded that the Celtic Eucharist at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia offered the most authentic model for Christ Church.
The new worship service is named “The Well.” Ancient holy wells are found throughout Britain and Ireland, and in the Celtic tradition such wells were places of pilgrimage, gathering, and worship. Wells were not only the source of life-giving water, but also were places through which people connected to God. Genesis 1:2 says that the Spirit of God “moved over the waters” at creation. Holy wells served to remind the faithful that, like water from the earth, God flows from and into the center of our being.
The Well will feature Celtic music played on harp, cello, and other instruments. It will be contemplative, providing space for meditation and prayer. Lighting will be muted, with the presence of many candles. The Eucharistic liturgy will be thoroughly Episcopalian, but it will incorporate prayers from the Church of Ireland, the Iona Community in Scotland, and other sources.
Of the new service, Dean Thompson says, “The Well will provide a prayerful and peaceful way to center oneself in God at the end of the day and the outset of a new week. The Celtic tradition has enriched my own encounter with God’s grace, and I hope many parishioners and newcomers will come and experience The Well.”
The Well will be held in the Cathedral. Attendees are encouraged to come as you are, including in casual attire. Childcare and children’s activities up to age 11 will be available during the service in our Childcare Center. Of course, children are also welcome in the service.