No Mandatory Singing or Chanting in New Buddhist Methodist Church

Singing and/or chanting do sometimes occur and are quite welcome at our in-person gatherings. Yet we intentionally abstain from scheduled, forced or mandatory singing or chanting. If some member/artist, or some group of us are inspired to sing or chant, we mostly feel quite free to do so. And in fact this often happens on our walks or in our evening gatherings. (We often do stop to sing or chant when, as a small group, we come to a particular tunnel on our local bike path. It’s like an echo chamber in there. The sounds are wonderful. Other bikers and walkers tend to hurry through when they see what we are doing.)


Singing and chanting are both ancient art forms and spontaneous expressions of joy, gratitude, good will and harmony. Many folks love to sing or chant alone as well as sing and chant with others. Special times and places are sometimes set up for this wonderful artistic expression, and invitations are sent not only for those wishing to participate but also those who enjoy simply to come and listen.

In general, however, our Buddhist Methodist Satsang gatherings do not include a regularly scheduled, orchestrated time for singing or chanting, unlike the old Methodist Church or some of the old Buddhist gatherings. (“We take up the collection during the second hymn.”)  We feel to do so would be akin to having a scheduled, regulated time for communal water-coloring, or communal clay or bonsai sculpting, communal wood carving, which might likewise, in their time and place, be appropriate and artful expressions of praise and thanksgiving.

Of course, we do not suggest that this absence of “mandatory chanting” or “mandatory singing” in our community is the “right way”  or “pure way” of worship and meditation. Rather, it is our way of simplifying and de-cluttering our coming together for communal inspiration.

We of course would love your feedback on this.

In peace— Bear Gebhardt, Organizer

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