Orders and Patterns of Worship for a Short Service

The CTS weekly chapel schedule is:

Monday (Service of Word)                 10:10 – 10:50

Tuesday (Morning Prayer)                 10:10 – 10:30

Wednesday – No Chapel, Forum        11:00

Thursday (Morning Prayer)                10:10 – 10:30

Friday (Service of Word & Table)     10:10 to 10:50  

It is challenging yet possible to plan a twenty or forty-minute service; please try to keep within the time frame so that regular attendance is possible for all CTS community members. Bulletin templates will be sent from the Office of Worship Life to assist you in ordering worship. Please use the template provided, but feel free to change the language of worship elements on the bulletin template to reflect the worship traditions of the planning team and particular service.

Pattern 1: Morning Prayer (Tuesdays and Thursdays – 20 minutes)

We gather to pray together, praise God, and meet God’s Living Word in scripture.

Morning Prayer can take many forms. You can follow or modify an existing Order (e.g. PCUSA Book of Common Worship) or craft your own. Morning Prayer normally includes scripture, canticles, congregational singing, and prayer. You are also invited and encouraged also to include a variety of art forms.

Scripture may be chosen from the Old Testament, the New Testament, or both. We ask that both testaments are heard during the week. Though Morning Prayer does not typically include a sermon, sometimes it is good to introduce a scripture reading with brief explanation or follow it with a 1-2 minute message or reflection.

Pattern 2: Service of Word (Mondays, 40 minutes)

Guidelines are as for Morning Prayer (above) but with room for a 10-20 minute sermon, homily, or other form of proclamation. All CTS students, CTS trustees, staff, and faculty (including emeriti and adjunct faculty) are authorized to preach at chapel worship.

To invite anyone else, prior written permission must be obtained. See Part Three, below.

Pattern 3: Service of Word and Table

1. Order and Timing

Customary parts are: prayer, song, scripture, brief message, invitation to Christ’s table, prayer of thanksgiving at the table / Great Thanksgiving, words of institution, communion (bread and wine/or grape juice), prayer, song, dismissal. 

An approximate time chart is:

·       Singing:10 minutes (2 hymns, or one hymn and 2—3 choruses or responses)

·       Call to worship, prayers: 3 minutes

·       Scripture: 2—4 minutes

·       Sermon or Homily: 10 minutes

·       Prayers of the People: 3 minutes

·       Invitation and Great Thanksgiving: 3 minutes

·       Receiving Communion and Sending: 6—8 minutes

The customary order is: “Word” followed by “Table.” It is exceptional to vary this, but not out of the question if there is good reason, i.e., your denomination/faith practice dictates a different order.

The sermon relates to one of the scripture readings. Our 40-minute total time frame means that the sermon must be shorter than in the Service of Word.


We celebrate the diversity of faith traditions in our community and encourage worship leaders to be faithful to their own. In the PCUSA, the “Table” part of the service (Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist) typically has the following components:

  • ·Invitation to the Lord’s Table.
  • Offering (of ourselves, the bread and wine/grape juice).
  • The Words of Institution [See Book of Common Worship, pp.70-71] used once, during the Invitation, the Great Thanksgiving, or the Breaking of Bread.
  • Great Thanksgiving (for models that can be used or adapted, see the Book of Common Worship, PCUSA) 
  • The Prayer of Jesus (Lord’s Prayer - unless used earlier in the service).
  • Breaking of the Bread.
  • Communion of the People.
  • Prayer after communion

*A Note Regarding Sung Responses:

The Great Thanksgiving often has three sung responses: the Sanctus [Holy, Holy, Holy], Memorial Acclamations [“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, or similar], and Amen. For sung responses, discuss options with the Seminary Musician.

The chapel assistant and sacristan will set up for communion and will provide gluten-free bread, wine, grape juice, and servers’ identifying badges (see below).  If you desire a particular communion set-up, please talk to the chapel assistant and sacristan. If someone on the planning team would like to bake bread, please communicate with the chapel assistant/sacristan.

The bread, wine and grape juice cups, and pitcher may be on the table throughout, or brought forward immediately after the Invitation (bringing them to the table is an ancient custom dramatizing our offering back to God the fruits of human labor in God’s creation).

Columbia Theological Seminary offers wine, grape juice, and gluten-free bread or bread and a gluten-free equivalent. Make sure that the congregation knows that gluten-free bread is served.

The presider should read or summarize the following:

 “When you receive communion, come forward along the center aisle, beginning with the first rows, and then return to your seats by the side aisle. Communion is by intinction. Take a piece of bread, and dip it in the cup. Grape juice cups are nearest to the center aisle; wine cups are nearest to the windows. The bread is gluten-free so all can partake. We will also bring the elements to you if you want to receive them in your seat.”

Servers typically serve the congregation first and then offer bread and wine to one another.

To show which cup is which, servers are provided with badges displaying a bunch of grapes (grape juice) or a wine cup (wine). From time to time, communion is served to people in their seats, using trays and tiny cups for the wine. If you do this, use grape juice only, and make a clear announcement to this effect.

Typically, six servers are needed for communion: two for the bread, two for the cups containing grape juice, two for the cups containing wine. Occasionally, for large services we use three stations and nine servers. Servers may include worship leaders and the person who presides at communion.

2. Leadership

All CTS faculty (including emeritus and adjunct faculty), trustees, staff, alumni/ae, and students who are authorized by their ecclesial body to administer the Lord’s Supper may do so on seminary property, according to the established customs of their own tradition.  All others are invited to preside only with prior written authorization. Authorization is requested by writing to the Associate Dean for Worship Life, ordinarily two weeks in advance.

See Part Three.