Worship in migrant churches

The Sound of Worship. Liturgical Performance by Surinamese Lutherans and Ghanaian Methodists in Amsterdam.

Every Sunday afternoon, a cacophony of sounds spreads over the Southeast part of Amsterdam. In churches, car parks, and school buildings, some hundred Christian congregations gather for worship. The performance of worship in these churches brings forth various sounds, which are often not only heard inside, but also outside the buildings. These sounds vary from audible silence and the singing of Geneva psalms in the local protestant congregation, to the upbeat sounds of praise, melodious preaching and rhythmic handclapping in one of the many immigrant churches.

The sound of worship is tightly bound up with the culture of its performers. Liturgical practice thus clearly expresses the identity of the people who perform liturgy, which is materially, culturally and contextually determined. In her study, Mirella Klomp investigated the sound of worship in a Surinamese Lutheran Congregation and a Ghanaian Methodist Church from a cultural-anthropological viewpoint, tried to find out which meanings churchgoers attributed to it and determined the qualities of these sounds. She theologically related these qualities, considered as sacramental shapes, to an incarnational understanding of worship, departing from the idea that, when the physical performance of ritual shapes embody the faith of the performer, forms in which the living Christ – who physically took shape in our reality – may be encountered, are created.

The dissertation following from this research project was defended in 2009 and published as Mirella Klomp, The Sound of Worship. Liturgical Performance by Surinamese Lutherans and Ghanaian Methodists in Amsterdam (= Liturgia Condenda 26), Leuven: Peeters 2011.