Society Against Sundays in the Month

Why is there no church society for those of us who believe that Sundays-in-the-Month are one of the works of darkness that beset the church and tempt it into doom and decline?

You know the kind of thing I mean – Matins on the first Sunday in the month and Eucharist on the rest. Or modern liturgy every Sunday except when there is a fifth Sunday in the month when it shall be the language of the Scottish Prayer Book 1928 1929. Or 10.30 am Sung Eucharist every week except the 2nd Sunday in the month when it is matins with the Methodists. Or First and Fourth Sundays in Auchendoggle, third Sunday in Auchendrizzle and a united service on the fourth Sunday in the month – see the church porch notice for details.

I’d be interested in any research in this area. Is it the case that there is a statistical correlation between decline and those practising the doctrine of Sundays in the Month?

Isn’t every notice which includes an intimation about the Sunday in the Month speaking to the world of a congregation either divided by compromise or prepared to announce its decline to the world?

Why do we never talk about this?


  1. frdougal says

    The Scottish Prayer Book was 1929 – 1928 was the US and the 2nd English proposed book (defeated by Scots Protestant MP’s who wouldn’t keep their noses out of English business).

    • Thanks Dougal – amended.

    • Chris says

      As I understand it, it was the Scots, the non-conformists and the Anglo-Catholics/Anglo-Papalists in alliance – none of whom would have used the book if it had been passed.

      • frdougal says

        True enough Chris – the Anglo-Catholics jibbed at the “narrow” provision for Reservation fearing they’d lose their tabernacles and be required to make do with aumbries!

  2. We could form a discussion group to talk about it, and meet on the second Sunday in the month.

  3. I was forced into this due to staffing problems, now I am determined to get back to Mass every week in every church. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned, but I’m trying to get better…

  4. Emlyn Williams says

    I couldn’t agree more! They are one of the most pernicious works of the Devil in that it sounds such an inviting idea until you try to make it work. Folk get it confused and come on the wrong Sunday and feel unable to worship, so walk away with bitter feelings of exclusion from God. One persons “way in” turns another off and frequently for a long time. Stand against this hideous crime against the Worship of the Almighty!

    I fear I may be one crying in the wilderness.


  5. frdougal says

    Up to a point I agree. But a placement in Edinburgh cautions against generalisations. St Peter’s Lutton Place used to take this to confusing extremes. 8am HC (alternating SL 1929 & EO) 1st Sunday 9.45 1982 & Praise Band, 11am Choral Mattins. Other Sundays had a Sung Eucharist (2nd Blue Book, 3rd Mattins/HC, 4th 1970). Compline @ 6.30pm except 2nd (Choral Evensong) & 3rd (Youth Group led Praise/meditative service). Numbers at main service generally at the 100 mark. It can ho;ld a diverse community together. Just sayin’ !

  6. Speaking generally rather than about individual congregations, how sure can we be that it really holds diverse congregations together?

    It seems to me to be basic mission strategy to put on predictable services – if someone comes one week and likes it it seems to me that it is a good idea to have something similar going on when they come back next time.

    That’s because I think that people are generally going to come to church if they like it.

    I think that very, very many people don’t make that assumption and are still living in a world where they think people will come (should come!) whether they like it or not.

    Does it hold diverse congregations together or does it stop them developing into growing networks within an organic whole?

    • Data-point: variety, please. You’re not going to get me into church before about 1030am at the best of times, so I don’t mind if I occasionally land on Matins. Far from it, in fact: I’d rather experience the breadth of Matins and Eucharistic services, just as I’d like to cope with *either* column version of the Lord’s Prayer in the 1982, or any variation on the Creed or any choice of the 3 post-communion prayers, any day, because then I gain strength of experience and understanding.

      (There’s still no excusing 1970, 1929 or electro-acoustic guitars pratting around in Dmin, however.)

  7. Even more infernal is the way we then communicate the Sunday’s in the month:

    8:30 HC BCP
    10:30 1&3 HE BAS
    2&4 MP BCP
    5 Family Worship

    (Whatever the latter is and whyever it doesn’t apply every other week.)

    That said. Sundays of the Month is an improvement over a straight rotation. I arrived in a six point (well, six congregations using eight buildings) parish which operated on a bizarre six week cycle that involved three of the four largest communities having variable service times. Moving to a Sundays of the Month pattern (where the Fifth Sunday became a special service at one point for the whole parish), while still imperfect, was a vast improvement.

  8. Rosemary Hannah says

    I am not sure it is always avoidable. I lived on an island where the pattern was dictated by the need to have morning services on a Sunday and the fact that the dominant church in a linkage naturally wanted the lion’s share of these. This meant having two morning prayers to one eucharist at the 11am, and in order to provide two eucharists a month, having one afternoon eucharist. I regretted the latter, but still think, in the absence of the ability of the one priest to be in two places at once, a mixed pattern of morning prayer/eucharist was unavoidable. The option was ONLY morning prayer on a Sunday. And no the congregation could not have travelled each week over the ferry and over the hill road to the other church, as it was hard to get enough car drivers to do it for special occasions.

  9. In our case, people involved in running services need to know if it’s a Rector present/Rector-over-the-water-in-which-case-it-might-be-retired-priest-or-Reserved-Sacrament Sunday – but the congregation in general and people turning up will only know if they dig. Seems to work ok, so far … I could see that some visitor might be put off, but …

  10. I dislike Sundays-in-the-Month but tonight found something that I dislike more: a church on a busy main road that holds 6.30pm Sunday Evening Worship on occasional Sundays “as announced”, and no indication that it might be announced anywhere other than inside the church.

  11. Far from it, in fact: I’d rather experience the breadth of Matins and Eucharistic services. UNN

  12. Robin says

    Those who dislike Sundays-in-the-Month are usually either members of the clergy, or laypeople who share the preferences of the majority in any given congregation. In my young days, I was one of the latter – abolish Matins, abolish the said 8-o’clock Communion for Prayer Book lovers, and force everyone to come to the mid-morning Sung Eucharist, Family Communion, or whatever it was called. Conform or get out!

    Now I think I was wrong. Compromises which keep people within the tent are surely better than a rigid purity which excludes? OK, nobody is actually physically excluded from the main worship service at any church; but people often *feel* excluded and unwanted, whether they hanker for an occasional Prayer Book Communion, Sung Matins, a Taize Service, Messy Church or Solemn Benediction. I’m all for messiness and muddle, if the alternative is ruthlessly enforced conformity and a ‘Father-knows-best’ (or ‘the-Worship-Committee-knows-best’) approach to planning congregational worship.

    • I think it is important to have non-Eucharistic worship as well as Eucharistic worship. My problem is the same time slot being divvied up. Have both by all means but have both consistently, weekly.

  13. Richard says

    My all-time favourite “Sundays-of-the-month” setup:

    1st Sunday of the month: “Communion on odd months of odd years and even months of even years, and always on Easter Sunday”

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