East Hampton Church To Hold Taizé-Style Ash Wednesday Service

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The First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton will celebrate Ash Wednesday with a Taizé-style service on March 5 at 7 p.m.

Taizé, an interdenominational worship style from the Burgundy Region in France, focuses on meditation and moments of silence. Services, which don’t follow a typical Catholic Mass or Protestant worship, also don’t include a sermon and are shorter than Sunday morning worship.

“It’s complementary to the morning services,” said Thomas Bohlert, director of music at the First Presbyterian Church in East Hampton. “It’s different, more introspective.”

The music during Taizé worship is also different from typical hymns, added Mr. Bohlert, comparing traditional church hymns to “lyrical poetry,” while Taizé sticks to more repetitive, prayer-like verses. “The only way I can describe it is like … letting the words sink into you,” he said. “Because the words tend to repeat, it feels more like prayer through singing.”

The church, whose interim pastor is Nancy Howarth, has done Taizé-style services previously and for other events, as the worship is not holiday-specific.

“We’ve done this type of service for other Lent holidays, but it seems particularly fitting for Ash Wednesday,” said Mr. Bohlert, who added that the First Presbyterian Church has been conducting Taizé-style services on Ash Wednesday for the past six years.

The service is lit mostly by candlelight, making Ash Wednesday’s evening service a perfect fit for Taizé worship.

“You leave in a mood that you don’t want to break,” said Mr. Bohlert. “It’s peaceful, thoughtful, and people have asked us to hold this type of worship, so we’re happy to do it again.”

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