Privacy and the prayers of the people
Brian C. Hardee
Recent changes in Federal laws have created an increased awareness of the potential for violations of personal privacy in many different areas of community life, including the Prayers of the People as they are offered in many churches. By writing in the form of a pastoral essay, I examine the privacy issues that exist in common church practices. I then look specifically at the Prayers of the People as they have been developing in the Evangelical and Reformed tradition of the United Church of Christ to highlight the growing need to have worship leaders and planners examine their Prayers of the People to see if there are privacy issues present in their worship. I seek to highlight the very real possible damages that can be caused through the unauthorized giving out of personal information in many of these prayers, while also pointing out the possible qualities of that prayer time that can be lost in an attempt to completely safeguard the privacy rights of all who are involved. I then suggest steps that can be taken to preserve public sharing during the Prayers of the People while simultaneously attempting to respect people's right to privacy. Finally, I suggest an etiquette for the Prayers of the People for churches to use for their practice of the Prayers of the People when it includes the opportunity for public sharing of specific joys and concerns.