Cathedral hosts ecumenical service


CHARLESTON — The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was the second stop for a series of six ecumenical Lenten services being held in Charleston during March and April.

The midday prayer service March 11 featured Father Dennis Willey, parochial vicar of the cathedral, as the presider, with Rev. Ina R. Hoover of St. John’s Lutheran Church as the reader.

Homilist for the event was Rev. Richard I.H. Belser of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, whose topic was “One Song, Many Voices.”

He began by relating a tale from Garrison Keilor regarding a small church in Iowa. It’s music ministers had included Wagner, Stravinsky, John Philip Sousa, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. However, the church members kept dismissing these famous musicians because they didn’t like the way “Jesus Loves Me” was performed.

“Their individual styles and uniqueness got in the way,” said Rev. Belser. “It’s a parable for all Christians.” However, he added, “There is only one song — the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Rev. Belser said that Jesus would say, “If you see me, you see the Father. If you know me, you know that tune that underlies the universe.” He continued, “We have God given unity through God given diversity. It’s God’s strategy for loving the world.” The Episcopal minister then urged attendees to ask themselves, “How well have I been singing God’s song?”

Jesus Christ is Lord, Rev. Belser emphasized, “It’s still a message the world needs to hear. Some of us overdo individuality and distort God’s song. People lose the tune and make up different words.”

Then, to laughter, he stated, “The words are Jesus loves me, yes I know,” not “Jesus loves me, anything goes.”

In closing, Rev. Belser said, “All are unique, and it is easy to be noncommittal. However, there is no greater joy or grander music all over the world than “One Song, Many Voices.”

Following his talk, he then led the congregation in the singing of “Jesus Loves Me.”

After the service, a luncheon was held in the Cathedral Center Hall.

On Wednesday, March 25, a Catholic priest is scheduled to be the speaker at an ecumenical service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Charleston.