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Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Meet 'n Greet--A Diversion

Since we have no new members to introduce this week, I thought we might offer up a survey question to answer in the comments. Yesterday I attended a concert at the Episcopal Cathedral in my city, and the person sitting with me asked, "Aren't there usually Bibles in a church?" We looked around and found a hymnal and the Book of Common Prayer, as well as some very attractive needlepoint kneelers, but no Bibles.

So please tell us, in the comments:

  • whether your church has Bibles in the pews, 
  • if so the translation, 
  • your denomination (or non- if that's the case), 
  • and if you know why your church might or might not. 

And don't forget next Monday's RevGalBookPals discussion, when we will talk about ring member Nadia Bolz-Weber's Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television. Nadia bravely watched 24 straight hours of "Christian" television, accompanied by friends who took shifts at her side. She reviews each show and reflects honestly when the theology expressed touches her despite her assumption that would not be likely. I hope you'll join me in the discussion.


  1. Episcopal Church and Bibles - not usually. The lections might be printed in the bulletin, but the full text isn't in the pews. To my understanding, it comes out of a tradition of hearing the Word proclaimed, rather than having it in hand (although the 1928 BCP had the lectionary text in the BCP itself). Also, it's a rare thing to hear the chapter and verse announced. (As a result, I know lots of Bible, but heaven help me if I have to look up the passage!)

    On a side note, the Anglican tradition is credal, proclaimed as part of the liturgy. As friend of mine says, "We sing it, we don't sign it."

  2. We have the RSV in the pews...We are a small programmed Quaker meeting. These are a result probably of the impact of the generation that was most strongly influenced by the holiness movement.

  3. Iforgot to add that I am anxious to relpace these RSV's with something more up to date...NRSV, I guess

  4. We have NRSV bibles in the pews and print the page numbers of the readings in the worship bulletin. I do see folks opening them up to read along. I like having the bibles in the pews as we all learn in different ways. Some folks are visual and others prefer to listen.

  5. NRSV in the pews of both home and field ed PC(USA) churches. I have written a couple of times how disconcerting it is for me to visit Catholic churches and reach for a pew Bible only to find none. Many people bring missals to mass but those contain only the daily readings, so if you are looking for context or for a contrasting reading, you won't find it.

    My Catholic friends tell me it comes from a desire that the Word should be proclaimed and heard. (I have protested that today we would view that as catering to but one kind of learning style!) I suppose we (and my former Methodist church) have them because of the paramouncy of Sripture in our tradition and the emphases on the privilege and responsibility of reading and studying it for oneself.

  6. PC (USA) rural congregation had RSV when I arrived. Session voted to replace them with ESV a year ago. We encourage the congregation to find the passage in their Bibles and read along each Sunday - primarily because so many are Biblical illiterate and find the Bible intimidating. This is a way to help them learn to navigate. Of course, it is also a recognition that many people simply haven't developed their listening skills.

  7. We have NRSV in the pews (PCUSA). We too, print the page number and invite people to read along if they wish...not many do. Most of the congregation does not use the NRSV for their own personal use.

    I have used Nathen Nettleton's paraphrases (at Laughing Bird). He usually has a fresh approach.

  8. We're an Episcopal church with bibles in the pews (the gift of a former RC nun who was married to the former RC priest!). We used to have inserts in our bulletin with the text of the lessons and the psalms, but ditched those for financial reasons. The lectionary texts with chapter(s) and verses are listed in the bulletin, and the collect of the day and psalm are printed on the back. The latter is an aid primarily for visitors who are unfamiliar with flipping back and forth through the prayer book to follow the liturgy.

    The reasons for NOT having pew bibles pews in the 'pisci church have already been noted above. Personally I think this is clinging to a tradition that has long passed its usefulness. I understand the idea of "hearing" the word, and before there were printed bibles, a literate society and a liturgy in one's own language, well, there ya go! I don't have a personal preference regarding bibles in the pews, though for myself I prefer to hear the word (and I am a visual person!).

    Anecdotally, a former member returned to church two Sundays ago and brought his bible with him. "Hmm," I thought, when I first saw him come in with the Bible. It gave me pause to consider trying some sermons where people DO open up their bibles and refer to the texts around which the sermon draws its inspiration. I have abandoned that notion for now, however. It it so far removed from how I preach that I would probably stumble over myself perpetually, and I'm not sure that people would actually delve into the book open in their hands. For our style of liturgy this form of receiving the Word proclaimed is better suited for the classroom.

    'Nuff ramble!

  9. Presbyterian here...
    placement church has the New English Bible and home church Good News in the pews.
    I personally prefer NRSV!

  10. We are a rural UMC and have NRSV Bibles in the pews. We have a screen and used to put the scripture reading on the screen, but now we have a visual. Some use the pew Bibles, some do not.

  11. We have TNIV Bibles available at the door. They are actually for the taking, if someone desires. About every six months, we order a new case of them, so they do "walk" -- which is fine.

    We're a nondenominational church. Most of the time the Scriptures are projected as part of the preaching outline. However, my pet peeve is that one of our preachers hopscotches from version to version and does not tell us what version it is.

    I look them up on my iPhone on YouVersion to keep myself focused.

  12. At our UCC church, we have NRSVs in about half the pews (sometimes you need to look if you want one)... AND we have phenomenal Children's Story Bibles in the other half of the pews (inclusive language, descriptive of historical/cultural context, etc). I often recommend to our adults that they join the kids in reading scripture from there for a different perspective.

  13. We are an Episcopal church with NRSV's in the pews. These have been there about 3 years and were bought via an appeal to the congregation...they could be "dedicated" and a bookplate affixed.

    The Bible page numbers are printed in the bulletin and are ALWAYS announced at the beginning of the readings (including the Gospel). We are frequently asked by Rector to get our our pew bibles and look up something.

    I LOVE THIS!!!

    I'm also seeing more people showing up at church with their own Bibles...not traditionally Episcopalian either...but I think the use of them in worship causes folks to think about it.

  14. I'm in an Anglican Church where we have NIV bibles in the pews; a holdover (I gather) from a previous rector who leaned more evangelical/low-church. This is the first Anglican Church I've ever spent substantial time in where there are pew bibles, although our school chapel has bibles available at the back (NRSV or Greek *grin*).

  15. Oh yes indeed we have Bibles in the NRSV. And we do that cause we are United Methodist. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are used unless they are bored with the sermon or other goings on or there is a concert in the sanctuary. Now in the new room where we do the contemporary service the Bibles are in carts and you can take one if you don't have one. They are paperback NRSV version. We also put on the screen the scriptures as they are read.

  16. I will add I grew up Baptist and from a young age when I first learned to read I was reading the Bible, memorizing verses, doing sword drills, etc. But that don't necessarily make me any better then anyone else. Ya can know the bible and then ya can know the bible.

  17. Deb, i use my Iphone app of You Version alo too. People laugh at me, but I don't care. I love reading the different versions.

  18. We're a Presbyterian church with NRSV in the pews. We announce/print page numbers with the readings on Sunday and from the flipping of pages that I hear at least a few follow along. We definitely hear about it if for some reason the Bible distribution around the sanctuary has gotten out of whack. I don't know if that's because there are folks definitely missing them, or if folks are just anal about having them available. I don't think ANYONE bring their own (except the Baptists who have been visiting lately because of a conflict in their own congregation).

    I have RARELY seen a Presbyterian church without Bibles in the pews/seats. We're simply (at least in theory and in history) just a very Word-centric group, but not necessarily a "bring your own and mark it up" group.

  19. Episcopal...current church doesn't have bibles in the pews but does use the weekly inserts with the lessons printed. In my previous church (10+ years ago), we purchased bibles to put in the pews; I thought it was great. 25 years ago as a seminary intern, I was stunned to discover bibles in the pews and the page number announced before every reading!

    I'm not sure there would be room in our racks right now; we have the BCP and 3 different hymnals!

  20. Yes,in this PC(USA)church I'm serving, we have Bibles in the pew racks and in the Library. The pew rack Bibles are the New Century Version. We use different versions for our Scripture readings that are always written out and projected on the screen. Why this version? Can't say. They were here before I came and will be here long after I depart. We always announce the book, chapter and verse of the reading.

  21. What an interesting array of possibilities!
    We definitely do the Bibles as memorial dedications or "in honor of" someone. Lots of our churches seem to have refurbished (or acquired?) pew Bibles just before the New Revised Standard Version was published, so they'll have to get a little older before being replaced.
    I always announce chapter and verse before reading the texts, and in most of the churches I've served, the page number is printed in the bulletin, too.
    I remember being surprised when people looked up the texts to read along when I first became conscious of other people behavior in church, probably in my 20s. I assumed I was supposed to listen! But it's also true that in general I "hear" texts better if I can read along.

  22. Episcopal church, no Bibles in the pews. I've been to Episcopal churches that have them and ones that don't. We print the full service in the bulletin every Sunday including all four readings so we probably don't have to have the Book of Common Prayer in the pew, either. Moving those out would cause a riot, however, and I point out lots of interesting places to be explored during the sermon to my youth group. ;-)

    In the 1928 BCP, only the gospel readings were printed. This was back in the days when the Sunday readings were static and didn't change from year to year. The 1979BCP has a three year lectionary in the back - references, no texts - but by this year, all of us are supposed to have moved to the RCL, an ecumenical move.

    While we might not have actual Bibles in the pews, 2/3d's of the BCP is from Scripture. And then there's the Hymnal! I think we all forget just how important the texts in our hymnals are. If you want the "official" theology of the Episcopal Church, that's where you look (texts have to be approved by General Convention) but don't expect to come away with a clear picture!

  23. no bibles in our pews, but some Lutheran churches do have pew Bibles.

  24. PCUSA church in the south.
    We do have Bibles in the NRSV, however many members use NIV and one (younger person) only reads King James version.
    We do like the others and put page numbers in bulletin.

  25. We have RSV Bibles in the pews of my American Baptist church, though I rarely see anyone looking at them. Someone donated them a long time ago.

    I grew up Southern Baptist, and I'm not sure whether or not we had pew Bibles. The reason I can't remember is that everyone brought their own - and actually used it! That habit was deeply ingrained in me, and I still find it strange that the people in my church here do not bring their Bibles with them. When I was growing up, we not only brought our Bibles, we followed along in them as the pastor or lay leader read.

    This was in the 80s and people had all kinds of fancy Bible covers, like with quilting and handles and stuff, and little pockets with notepads and so forth. It was almost a bizarre status symbol to have one of those fancy little covers - it showed how seriously you took your Bible! ;)

  26. ROFL Earthchick... I had one of those "fancy Bible covers" that I cross-stitched on the front (a kit). I actually tossed it (the cover, not the Bible.)

    BTW, does anyone else find slightly creepy the "this is my bible I am what it says I am..." creed of Joel Osteen? (One of my daughters said to me -- "mom - that's a drink the kool-aid moment....")

  27. My Disciples congregation had KJV Bibles in the pews when I got here and no one referred to them. I always did the readings from the NRSV.

    A few years later, we had some new members who wanted to follow along, and they were frustrated because the readings never matched what was in the pew Bibles. So they bought us a bunch of NRSV pew Bibles (with our name on them, no less!).

    Now we put the page number in the bulletin and announce it (knowing many people would have trouble finding it quickly enough otherwise), and lots of people seem to follow along.

    Ironically, the members who bought them left in a huff a few years later. Good thing we had the church's name put on, or they might have taken the Bibles with them!

  28. ELCA - Lutheran. There are Bibles in the pews - NRSV. The lesson page number (note we are only using one instead of all 4)... is printed in the worship folder and shown on the overhead. Some folks bring their own Bibles so they can make notes.

    Lots of ELCA churches use inserts with all of the lessons and sometimes the prayers printed on them.

    I'm becoming more of a fan of using one lesson each Sunday... especially when the sermon isn't on the gospel lesson. Read 4 lessons and preach on the First Testament... and no one remembers it by the time you get to the sermon.

  29. We have pew Bibles (NRSV) in our ELCA church. Our pastor will sometimes have people read "around" the given texts of the day to provide some context, but we have all our lectionary readings printed in the bulletins and don't normally direct worshippers to the Bibles. Just as a sidebar...even though we make it very easy for people to obtain a Bible of their own -- we've done group orders of the new Augsburg-Fortress NRSV study Bible, we are happy to discount the price for a hurting family, etc....every year a certain percentage of our pew Bibles "walk away." We've decided that this is a kind of ministry, LOL, so we kind of factor it in to the book budget.

  30. PCUSA -- RSV in the pews. We print page numbers in the bulletin and I set the DH to look up page numbers in the Bible the secretary keeps on her desk, he realized it was a Large Print version and went looking for the regular, then realized that ALL the pew Bibles in the church are Large Print.


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