Worship Services in the Group
The group rarely has its own ritual actions or formal worship services. There is a type of baptism in the group, but it doesn’t have the same meaning as in Christian churches. Baptism is understood as an external sign of inner conversion, but it is not considered to be necessary for salvation. Because the previous Christianity of a new member is, with very few exceptions, discredited, re-baptism is the general practice. It can carried out by any given group member whom the candidate for baptism has previously chosen, or by a member whom the group has chosen. The baptism of children is possible, if the child has ‘faithful’ parents who will ensure a Christian upbringing. Baptism happens by immersion in, or sprinkling with, water, usually in or by a lake or river. Various ‘cell’ groups travel regularly to Lake Balaton in Hungary, where some of these baptism have occurred.
For some time now, the group has celebrated a type of ‘Eucharist’ as a ‘memorial meal.’ Only members who are already fully decided can participate. More exact details about this rite are not known; it is said to occur very rarely. The presence of Jesus in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is understood in a Lutheran sense (as a real presence at the moment of reception), but not further explained. In this point one detects the lack of interest, already alluded to elsewhere, in theological questions which do not affect lifestyle or community structures.
A further action similar to a worship service is public confession. Each member confesses his failures before the gathered group. “This way, we can admonish one another and help in the struggle against sin. If we give up the struggle against sin, we give up our Christianity.” Subjectively, the member does not feel forced to confess, but rather believes that she or he is doing this voluntarily and gladly, in order to “share everything with each other.”
As already mentioned, the daily meeting with intensive and long communal Bible readings takes much time. On the one hand, it is supposed to lead to an everincreasing understanding of God’s Word; on the other hand, it should also strengthen the communality among the members. According to their understanding, these meetings are the real worship service, and they form the core of their communal life. In terms of form, they are patterned rather freely, with Bible study, prayer, spiritual conversation, and singing. A folder of various spiritual songs (characterized mainly by praise songs) has been assembled, and it is used in the meetings. Occasionally, musical instruments are used while singing, but not, however, in a manner which would allow one to speak of making music. Only the content of the song is understood as important; its external form is immaterial. In the case of a song with a catchy melody, members are warned not to sing the song merely because of the tune.
Prayer happens in these meetings, and also elsewhere, but strictly corporately; private prayer is understood to be breaking away from the community (unless the member is in school or at work, away from the group). A large amount of time is consumed by unstructured and open prayer, in which everyone participates. Reading Psalms is also a favorite. In between, Bible verses are spoken. The Lord’s Prayer, according to reports from former members, is not prayed. The group states that Jesus did not understand it as a prayer, but rather as thoughts which should stimulate one’s own prayer.
Forms of worship services for weddings, funerals, illnesses, or for ‘coming of age’ (confirmation) are unknown. Presumably, the occasions for such services have not occurred.
Holidays are rejected, whether private ones (birthdays), national ones (Labor Day, other federal holidays), or religious (Christmas, Easter).