Hold that Clap!

I was happy to receive this letter from a member of our church community. Barbara Crain is a great friend of our church, a faithful volunteer and financial contributor, and a member of the congregation on most Sunday mornings. Still, she’s not a “joiner” (which makes her especially UU in my eyes!), and when she approached me about voicing her opinion, she said that, as a non-member, she felt she had no standing to criticize. “Au contraire!” I encouraged her, “this is a community of welcome and openness, and you have every right to express your thoughts.” What follows is the great letter she composed . . . and now it is YOUR turn to participate in the dialogue.

Listening, fondly,


Hold that Clap?

     For me, a church service provides and opportunity for personal reflection on the meaning of life, love, brotherhood, etc.; i.e.: the important issues involved in citizenship in this Earth.

     Unitarian church services are usually built on a central theme, with carefully chosen readings, hymns, choral and instrumental selections, sermons, and rituals to carry out that theme. To me, a service in wish all the parts blend seamlessly into a whole is a treasure and a “success” in that it focuses my reflection and may even elicit positive actions on my part that would otherwise lie dormant. I commend the ministers, worship associates, and musicians of the church in their successful efforts in achieving this goal.

     My problem is that clapping seems to have become part of our services now. For me, this is quite jarring and disruptive to my personal immersion in the proceedings, It breaks the chain of my involvement and draws my concentration away from the natural flow of the moment. I wish that people would only murmur a quiet “Amen,” if anything, and wait until after the service or for coffee hour to let a particular participant in the service know that his or her offering was especially important for them.

     It seems to me that the service should be experiences as a whole, rather than applauded in discrete sections. Do others in the congregation feel this way? Perhaps I am alone in my concern.

 Barbara Crain

3 responses to “Hold that Clap!

  1. You are not alone in your concern Barbara. I too find clapping jarring and disruptive to the meditative process.
    I’ve been in other congregations where ‘clapping’ is done via ASL. Same effect, without the interruption of thought and contemplation.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Barbara for all the reasons she stated. I like her idea of saying “amen” instead. Another option would be ASL “clapping” i.e. raising and shaking hands in the air. Thanks, Barbara!

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