Keeping Time/Life Passages is the theme for the 2nd annual gathering of congregations from around the U.S. for a weeklong seminar in June.”Time, like an ever-rolling stream, soon bears us all away,” we sing with Isaac Watts. How does a congregation worship God from the midst of the days, weeks, years, and stages of life that shape its experience of time? How do, and how might, the worship, the music, and the other artistic expressions of the church—which are themselves fleeting and temporal—help contemporary people find abundant life within time’s ever-rolling stream?

These perennial questions have special saliency in our 24/7 society, where many people are at a loss for both time and wisdom about time. Christian worship is deeply formed by patterns that give shape to time—Sundays, seasons, hours of prayer. Further, the lives of Christian people are formed by the church’s framing of such temporal passages as birth, maturation, spousal commitment, and death. This theme invites congregations to engage questions about rhythm, tempo, and pace in the passages of life and the practices of worship.

For the seminar, leadership teams from the congregations gather with Yale and guest faculty on the Yale campus for five days to form a diverse ecumenical community of ministers, musicians, scholars, and other church leaders. The curriculum is shaped by the theme and designed to support the congregations’ individual projects, which build on their particular strengths in worship, music, and the arts; to expand their capacity to serve the surrounding community; and to nurture ecumenical partnerships.