Spiked hair, black boots and eyeliner welcome
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania — Churches continually strive to attract fresh faces into their flocks, and one of the challenges they face is getting the attention of younger people who may have turned their backs, according to the Rev. Lou Divis, deacon in charge at St. George’s Episcopal Church.
To address this quandary, the church on Main Street in Nanticoke embraced a new approach called the Goth Liturgy on Saturday night at 9. Unlike the traditional Sunday-morning service in which an organist, choir and congregation join in energetic hymns of praise, the Goth Liturgy is more “meditative,” Divis said.
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The church is dimly light, lined with candles and full of the aroma of burning incense. Gregorian chants from the 12th century and faith-based music from techno bands such as Depeche Mode and Love Spirals Downward played softly during the hymn segments.
The servers were dressed in black robes and the guest celebrant, the Rev. Peter D’Angio from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scranton, was clothed in a flowing white robe. The sanctuary had a noticeably more intimate ambiance.
The Goth Liturgy took off in England in the 1990s, Divis added, and may gain momentum locally if the congregations grow. Saturday night’s service will be followed by several more during Advent season at St. George’s, which ends at Christmas, Divis said.
Divis said the present image of Goth comes more from the music the teenagers buy. However, Goth has a steeped European history, which includes a mass conversion to Christianity hundreds of years ago.
The modern Goths are viewed as mysterious and aloof, with their white faces and black attire. The truth is that during the Middle Ages, Goth images were filled with Christian themes, D’Angio said.
Many local Goths are Christians, Divis said. And, they can feel free to attend St. George’s Goth Liturgies adorned in spiked hair, black boots and eyeliner.