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May 10, 2012 | Jeanie Sablatura

Austin Church Changes Tradition to Embrace Green Initiative

For 27 years, St. David’s Episcopal Church has hosted its end-of-the-day prayer service, Compline, on Sundays at 9 p.m. Beginning June 3, St. David’s will move this age-old tradition to 8 p.m. to embrace better ways for living “green.”


“We had a University of Texas student who is a member of our Compline Choir tell us he has a hard time getting here each week because public transportation options become limited in the evening,” said David Stevens, St. David’s Director of Music. “That one comment started us thinking about how we could better serve our members and be better stewards of the environment.”


By ending one hour earlier, St. David’s will also be reducing the amount of energy used to keep the church open on Sunday evenings.


St. David’s was the first church in Austin to offer Compline which is the last of the daily offices traditionally chanted by monks before retiring for the evening. Initiated in 1986 at St. David’s, Compline is a short, meditative service chanted by a choir of anywhere between eight to 18 experienced singers. Several of these singers have been with the choir since its inception. The music consists of Gregorian and Sarum chant melodies, Elizabethan and Tudor motets, and a variety of contemporary hymns. The congregation sits quietly in the candlelit and incensed Historic Church, participating through silent prayer and meditation. The service lasts approximately a half-hour.


St. David’s is near the end of its pursuit of environmental certification in the GreenFaith Program for houses of worship. The two-year certification process not only involves greening the facilities and operations, but also includes educating parishioners and participating with the Austin community on projects related to stewardship of the Earth’s resources and environmental justice. Certification with GreenFaith is just the beginning of St. David’s journey toward sustainability, regeneration, and more compassionate care of the Earth.