West End United Methodist Church


For an increasing number of persons searching for a deeper spirituality, the word Taizé evokes a sense of peace and comfort. In fact, Taizé is an ecumenical community of brothers located in a small French village whose monastic life turns on three poles: prayer, work and hospitality. Out of that context, the songs of Taizé have been created to facilitate the worship of God and the healing work of reconciliation among all people. The world has gratefully received this music and way of worship as a beautiful gift that transcends our differences and brings us together as the one family of God.

For persons at West End who dreamed of offering a healing worship service for its members and anyone in the broader community who sought it, the road was first paved by our Youth Ministry team over two decades ago. Early in 2004, with Sally Ahner's leadership, we incorporated the music and worship style of Taizé in a unique service of prayer and healing, where persons may choose to be anointed with oil and receive hands-on healing prayer.

The response to these services has confirmed what many around the world affirm—that through Taizé worship, God's spirit often works to quiet the troubled, to comfort the hurting and heal the broken.

Services of Prayer and Healing

Our Services of Prayer and Healing combine a relatively new form of worship with very old ritual to create a time of quiet and calm, which is focused on healing for our mind, bodies, spirit and world. Remaining true to the form of prayer worship developed in the community of Taize in recent decades, our services include singing, silence, reading of scripture and spoken prayer. The addition of the ancient tradition of anointing with oil and the laying on of hands enhances the time of prayer and brings the clear intention of healing.


Singing is one of the most essential elements of Taize style worship. Short songs sung in both English and Latin, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. It allows everyone to take part in a time of prayer together and to remain together in attentive waiting on God, without having to fix the length of time too exactly. These songs also sustain personal prayer. Through them, little by little, our being finds an inner unity in God. They can continue in the silence of our hearts when we are at work, speaking with others or resting. In this way prayer and daily life are united. They allow us to keep on praying even when we are unaware of it, in the silence of our hearts.


Silence is a critical element in this form of worship. When we try to express in words our thoughts of communion with God our minds quickly come up short. Although many of us would love to hear God's voice thundering from the sky as in those ancient Bible stories, we know that is not likely today. More often than not is in times of quiet and stillness that we can hear the whisper of God inside us. These services intentionally plan periods of silence after preparing our minds through the meditative songs with the hope for a stronger connection to The Divine.


Reading from the Psalms and Scripture places us in the communion of all believers. Jesus prayed the age-old prayers of his people from the Psalms and Christians have always found them to be a wellspring of life. Reading anchors these services in rich Christian tradition and in powerful words of faith.