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The Special Service Worship Architect

Blueprints for Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, Holy Communion, and Other Occasions

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One of the "Best Books of 2013," Worship Leader

This book takes the principles found in Constance Cherry's successful The Worship Architect--in which she provided dynamic blueprints for designing worship services--and applies them to special services in the life of the church. Cherry, a worship professor and practitioner, offers theological reflection, practical guidance, and suggested resources to help worship leaders and ministry students in training to create meaningful special services related to the sacraments, life passages, and other occasions.

Cherry sets forth a process concerning worship design for special services and demonstrates how this process is conducive to virtually any style of worship practiced today in a myriad of Christian communities. She includes a model order for each service type, including weddings, funerals, baptisms, child dedications, Holy Communion, and more. The book not only explains what leaders do in order to preside at special services and how to do it, but also why they make certain choices. Each chapter includes discussion questions, practical exercises, and a basic glossary.

1. Foundations for Sacred Actions
2. The Christian Wedding
3. The Christian Funeral
4. Christian Baptism
5. The Table of the Lord
6. The Healing Service
7. The Foot Washing Service and the Love Feast
8. Child Dedication and Alternative Rites
9. Serving as a Rituals Architect: How to Create Meaningful Rituals for Corporate Worship
Appendix A: Prayer Forms
Appendix B: Orders of Services


"This book is much like Constance Cherry herself: a wonderful combination of a theologian's wisdom, a pastor's sensitivity, and an artist's creativity. All worship planners--musical or pastoral--will benefit from it."

Lester Ruth, Research Professor of Christian Worship, Duke Divinity School

"Some of the most profound pastoral and prophetic moments in church life happen during occasions of significant transition and change. This book provides a vision for thinking about these and other occasions that draws deeply on a biblically shaped imagination, wisdom from historic practices, and concern to respond in contextually appropriate ways to specific circumstances. Pastors and worship leaders who read this book may well learn to think of these occasional services as events not on the periphery of their ministries but rather at the center of them."

John D. Witvliet, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

"Constance Cherry combines real-life concerns and experiences related to worship with biblical and historical substance in a manner that invites the reader into the integrity of worship. In this, her second volume on Christian worship employing the metaphor and method of the architect, Cherry celebrates the doxological power inherent in life passages. Her common touch provides a point of entry into some of the most profound practices of the worshiping community. I hope all those called to lead the Christian community in worship find a place for this volume not on their shelf but on their desk."

Paul Chilcote, academic dean and professor of historical theology and Wesleyan studies, Ashland Theological Seminary

"The Special Service Worship Architect will enhance both the ministerial practice and the congregational experience of weddings, baptisms, funerals, and communion. Constance Cherry provides both theological and historical perspective and concrete, practical guidance for the practice of these key expressions of Christian life and worship. I heartily recommend this book to pastors, seminarians, and all those who are concerned for the enrichment and renewal of worship in our churches."

John Jefferson Davis, professor of systematic theology and Christian ethics and chair, Division of Christian Thought, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; author of Worship and the Reality of God

The Author

  1. Constance M. Cherry

    Constance M. Cherry

    Constance M. Cherry (DMin, Northern Seminary) is professor emeritus of worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, where she taught from 2004-2020, and is a founding faculty member of the Robert E. Webber Institute for...

    Continue reading about Constance M. Cherry


One of the "Best Books of 2013," Worship Leader

"Cherry continues to gift pastors with a library of essentials for worship that is Christ-centered, as she builds on her wonderful The Worship Architect. In The Special Service Worship Architect, she furnishes those planning and executing worship with a handbook for seven different special services. . . . In some ways with the orchestrated movements and transitions, Cherry has given us a symphony as much as a blueprint for special service worship. . . . Constance's multifaceted experience as a pastor, professor, songwriter, and author make this a rewarding read and indispensable resource."

Andrea Hunter,

Worship Leader

"Ever get stuck when planning a wedding or a funeral? Need new inspiration to bring spirit and truth to communion, baptisms, and healing services? Never done a foot-washing? You're covered with scripts and Scriptures, yet plenty of creative space for you, your church, and faith tradition. Thanks Constance. You've done it again."

Worship Leader

"A major strength of the book is Cherry's ability to combine theory and practice. . . . The book is deep enough to give students in a foundational worship class an introductory awareness of the biblical, theological, and historical roots underlying each service. Yet, the book is also wide enough to provide practical resources for the seasoned congregational minister who plans worship on a regular basis. . . . Another strength of this book is its usability as a textbook. Not only does Cherry provide good, well-researched content, she also provides opportunities for the reader to reflect on the content by introducing questions for consideration at the beginning of each chapter. At the end of each chapter, Cherry provides practical suggestions for ways in which the reader can apply the content. . . . As a textbook, this book informs the reader as well as engages the reader."

Karen G. Massey,

Review and Expositor