The Underground Church


What made you think of the name for "The Underground Church" website?

The name "undergound church" came to me a few years ago when I began a thought experiment on a way to make church authentic yet edgy. I envisioned a kind of drama performed by a small troupe of musicians, aimed at downtown and college types, occurring late at night in an old warehouse, theater, or gallery. The more decrepit the building, the better. I pictured word-of-mouth advertising for this "Underground Church". The goal would be to put the audience into the shoes (or sandals) of members of an illegal or secret church. I might invoke in the playbill any number of historical settings: I might tell of the earliest Christians during the Roman Empire's persecutions, meeting in secret in the catacombs. Or perhaps the reader would be transported to the secret Catholic masses occuring in English manor homes during the Protestant ascendancy in England, or to a private baptism ceremony by Anabaptists in Germany, or to groups of devout Puritans sneaking out of the Church Of England to meet in secret. I pictured a medieval flavored service that is yet accessible to hearers, such as an English translation of a Vespers or Compline service. One needn't look much further for a rich source material than the Book of Common Prayer, and the ceremony could include some of the chants and motets that have been used by Anglican congregations since the Middle Ages. (As an aside, I view the Book of Common Prayer as much more than a mere service book for one denomination; more broadly it is a treasure and a gift to all English speaking Christians, in a similar fashion as the King James Bible).

I decided that a good first step would be to design a website, which is this current work in progress. The name carried over, though I considered some alternatives, such as "The Underground Christian", "Catacomb Christian", and "In The Catacombs."

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