The Homely Hours – An Interview

I’ve made some Anglican Mama friends on Instagram. Amanda is one of them, and she’s incredible. In Spotswood Cornerstone Community, we have Morning Prayer twice a week and begin with a reflection on a Saint, Hero or Holy Day. I have a bunch of resources, but my default has been Exciting Holiness online. The book is used daily at Lambeth Palace. The only thing is, it’s not really that exciting. I mean, who wants to hear about synodical reform at 7:30am? Amanda from The Homely Hours has been writing her own short biographies of the saints week-by-week, and I’ve switched to using them. They are written in a more lively tone and always include an interesting quote either about or from the Saint we are learning about. I started chatting to Amanda on Instagram and found she and her church have an amazing story to tell.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family? 

I’m married to Jon and have two daughters who are 4 and 2. My husband and I grew up Baptist, were both Bible majors at a Baptist college and went to a Southern Baptist seminary — where we became Anglican. From early on in college, we were consumed with questions about the Church and troubled by the reality, “We want to give our lives to the Church, why do we hate Sunday morning so much?” While in seminary, we were able to connect with Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. We were his summer interns in 2012, and going to his Anglican church really sealed the deal that we were Anglicans.  We moved back to the Dayton, Ohio area (where I’m from) where we are members of Christ the King Anglican Church. I’m the music director and my husband, now a web developer with an M.Div, is senior warden.

What made you start the blog The Homely Hours? What does the title mean? 

My friend Bley and I followed a lot of wonderful Catholic liturgical living blogs, but couldn’t find similar resources in the Anglican tradition. Bley is an artist and had already made a lot of liturgical living printables (such as her Jesus Tree Advent printables) so starting a blog together seemed to make sense, mostly as a service for our own parish. We decided to call it “The Homely Hours” because we were talking about the fixed prayer system of the “Divine Hours,” and the word “homely” just seemed very fitting as a description of our “hours” — cozy, but also fairly dishevelled.

Your church became Anglican through exploring church history (funnily enough so did I), tell us about that shift?

The church started as a non-denominational charismatic college ministry. Six years after officially becoming a church, Fr. Wayne unexpectedly became the pastor. He found himself overwhelmed, but felt led to read church history for wisdom. Over many years, he led the church toward Anglicanism. It was quite a dramatic shift — we actually use the 1928 Prayer Book, so you can imagine. But Fr. Wayne has always had the long vision and promised that after 10 years or so, it would get into everyone’s bones. That was in the 90s. My husband and I became part of the church around 6 years ago. It’s beautiful to see how much more at home everyone is in the liturgy even since we became members.

As I write about monastic charismatic spirituality, I’m interested to know if there’s still charismatic elements in your church or you’ve moved quite away from that? 

I asked Fr. Wayne what he would say to this, he responded: “The many connotations of the word ‘charismatic’ make a direct answer difficult. In terms of our Lord’s Day service, we’ve moved quite a bit away from the more contemplative, devotional nature of a typical modern ‘charismatic liturgy.’ The covenant renewal nature of almost all historic liturgies requires something different.” But, he agreed that there are still some elements remaining — for example, we all raise our hands during the sursum corda –” Lift up your hearts!” And, our priests anoint with oil at the end of every Sunday service. We maintain a very real sense of Christ’s presence among us. That is also accentuated by the presence of the “least of these” in our pews. We are quite traditional, but probably look different than what someone would imagine when they hear we use the 1928 Prayer Book and 1940 Hymnal. We’re located in a depressed area in our city. Homeless people come in and out. We have a ministry to a group home, and our members from there faithfully attend and add so much to our service — sometimes, at the wrong times, but that’s part of it. We also have a ridiculous amount of young children for a small church (e.g. 9 babies born in 16-17 who are now all toddlers!) and we’re committed to having them mostly in the service with us, though sometimes that makes things crazy. All that to say, our liturgy provides a welcome structure when people are coming in and out and all the littles are disgruntled.

Recently you started a weekly blogpost which looks at the Saints and Feast Days for each week. What inspired you to do to this? 

It’s really more of a personal devotion than anything. We had almost decided to stop the Homely Hours and just keep it up as a repository. But, I was realizing that I wasn’t as conscious of the church year without having the discipline of the keeping the site. (For example, I am the church pianist and I forgot about our evening Ascension Day service. I have a good excuse: we had just moved. But still, I was running 15 minutes late, frantically calling all my friends to get in contact with our back up pianist to play the processional.)  Also, before I started this weekly post, most of the posts were from my artist friends Bley and Michelle offering free printables. So, I wanted to keep those wonderful resources in circulation and make it a little easier for readers to find at relevant times.

How have you incorporated “Anglican-ness” into your family life?

It’s always changing. In terms of daily worship, we do the shorter form of morning prayer every day, after we sing our hymn of the month; then we try to do evening prayer at night and sing the Nunc Dimittis. This year, it was our first time really doing something for Michaelmas — I bought a dragon pinata from Amazon. We “slayed” the dragon, and processed around the house with his head, singing A Mighty Fortress is our God. My kids loved it, though my 2 year old keeps coming downstairs in the morning and reassuring herself that there is no dragon. Generally, I’m just trying to do what we have on the site, buy the children’s books, etc.

Your church is a part of the Reformed Episcopal Church. How did REC come to be?

Early in the 1870’s a substantial number of clergy sought to reform aspects of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Their efforts met with firm resistance resulting in a separation in 1873. One significant issue was a commitment to open communion with other Christian denominations. In our liturgy, we have this introduction to Holy Communion: “Our fellow Christians of other branches of Christ’s Church, and all who love our Divine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in sincerity, are affectionately invited to the Lord’s Table.” I really appreciate this emphasis. One thing I love about Anglicanism is that I can still embrace all the very good things I received from growing up Baptist, and that we believe in sharing the Table with Christians from other traditions.

This interest you have in liturgy and the saints, is it uniquely “you” or something your church and denomination are interested in also? (In Australia, most Evangelical Anglicans are quite “low church” – the recent Anglican Future Conference being case in point had basically zero liturgy).
Our church community definitely has a strong interest in liturgy and the saints. I’m so thankful. In the past 5 years, two of my friends that have also been part of the Homely Hours, established our Godly Play program for young children. It’s such a beautiful program– this past week, the kids learned about baptism by going through the actual service, standing in the places of the parents and godparents. We try to plan our church gatherings around feast days, etc. We have big house blessings when anyone moves. Starting the Homely Hours was much less about our individual families, but integrating church and home — bringing what is already happening at Christ the King into our personal and family devotions.

Thanks, Amanda for your thoughtful words and beautiful images! You can follow Amanda’s blog here, and on Instagram here.


Rachael is Currently…

Grateful for a wonderful trip to England to attend a conference on New-Monasticism, among other things.
Recovering from jetlag and a major cold, along with my baby! #prayforus
Reading Workship Volume 2 by Kara Martin. I was able to give a copy of Volume 1 to the Community of St Anselm Library and one to the leadership team. Also, I saw a meme the other day ‘No one is more full of unrealistic expectations than a mum who brings a book on a family holiday.’ Yes.
Listening to People & Songs on Spotify, which is a community of creatives. I especially love the song ‘What Mercy Did For Me’ and the bridge. “And every morning, mercy will restore me, I will proclaim. And even if the world may fall before me, I will proclaim” to the tune of ‘I’ll Fly Away’. Very cool.

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