This Saturday the Claremont Colleges will host their first Taizé service at 4 p.m. in Scripps’s Toll Living Room.
Taizé is a Christian worship style that was founded in France by Brother Roger, who sought an inclusive community that devoted itself to simplicity and contemplative worship, according to organizer Becca Marion SC ’12. As part of her semester abroad last year, Marion spent a week in the community in southern France as part of a program that welcomes international youth to experience the Taizé worship style.
“It was a really life-changing experience,” Marion said. “I really loved the style, it was much more contemplative and reflective. It allows a space for listening.”
During her week of contemplation, discussion, and worship Marion was inspired to try to use her skills to bring the style of worship to Claremont.
“I think it would be great to provide an alternative worship style to those who don’t feel comfortable in other worship settings,” Marion said. “I’m aware there are already several outlets for Christians to worship on campus but I think this one is so unique that it deserves a place.”
Marion and friend Laura Passarelli SC ’12 have been having private Taizé services in Passarelli’s room since the beginning of the year, but both felt other people would appreciate the service style if it were available to the wider community.
“[The services] helped me to remember what is important in the midst of my busy schedule,” Passarelli said. “We could talk about the meaning of the [Bible] passage, and this helped me to actually think about the words that we read. The structure of the service helped me to stop my everyday worrying, and the intimate nature of it helped me to be real about what is going on in my life.”
Some elements likely to be in the Taizé service include a prayer and Bible readings, both by one person, and lots of singing in between. They will also include a moment of silence stretching from two to ten minutes.
While Taizé itself is a nondenominational Christian service, Marion hopes to be open to people of all faiths, including agnostics and atheists.
“We’re open to people of all beliefs,” Marion said. “It’s really a space for you and your reflection, and, if this is the way you believe, a connection to God.”
Once the worship services are underway, one goal of the pair is to add other aspects of the Taizé community to their Claremont extension.
“At the Taizé community itself there’s more than just the service,” Marion said. “That happens three times a day, but there’s also Bible discussion groups and sharing meals together… I think that’s really important. It’s all part of the package.”
In addition, the Taizé community is international and invites youth from all over the world to the event Marion participated in. Marion based the services she’s planned for Claremont off of the Taizé service she attended in Denver, her hometown, which included readings and music in other languages.
“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity to have more of an internationally-focused community,” Marion said.
All interested students are welcome at the first service on Saturday, and can visit http://www.taizeclaremont.wordpress.com to find out more. Marion will be updating the website with the details of the next service, as well as the structure of the services and information about the history of Taizé in general. Non-Scripps students can knock on the door or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request a phone number to be let into the dorm.
Marion stressed that the services are open to people from all the colleges and of all beliefs.
“The whole idea with Taizé is that it’s ecumenical,” Marion said. “People from all… faiths unite under this style of worship. We’re open to everyone.”