Taking the Paper out of Church Service

I try to rid all paper products from my reach during a church service due to medical reasons.  The books are heavy and the programs are flimsy.    Neither works well with my neuro-muscular disease.  My happy medium is using an electronic tablet.  I use an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, but I would recommend others to use either an iPad or a nice Android tablet like a Samsung Galaxy Tab.  Using either an iPad or Android tablet will allow the installation of the St. Matthew’s Mobile Application which will give you quick access to all of the digitized media.

First, we need to identify what the paper products are:

  • 1979 Book of Common Prayer
  • 1982 Hymnal
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing
  • Bible – New Revised Standard Version
  • Program
  • Pew Sheets (on Wednesday)

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is available on-line at The (Online) Book of Common Prayer.  I use a Kindle Version available here through Amazon.  There are hot-links that work really well during service.

I have to photograph the program prior to service.  I’m working on obtaining them prior to the service so I can digitize them at home, but my efforts have been fruitless.

We only use a Bible during Wednesday’s services when the readings are not printed out in the program. Actually, on Wednesday, we only have a pew sheet, so there is no program to follow with the readings in it.

I replaced the Bible, again with a Kindle version.  However, through BibleGateway.com, I link the readings to the Community Calendar calendar.smetechguild.org to provide easy access during the service.

Hymnary.org is a tremendous site for hymnals.  You may find the The Hymnal of 1982 here and LEVAS (Lift Every Voice and Sing II) here.  The Hymnal of 1982 is available as a Kindle version, but the on-line version has a better navigation system.

So, in summary we have:


Paper Resource Free Digital Paid Digital Notes/Comments
1979 Book of Common Prayer bcponline.org Kindle Version Available Kindle version is much better because of the indexing and the internal links
Hymnal 1982 Hymnary.org Kindle Version Available The indexing of the Kindle version is problematic.  I haven’t tried the free version in a live service, but it looks very promising.  I’ll update this article after I go to service again.
Lift Every Voice and Sing II (LEVAS) Hymnary.org not available
Bible – NRSV BibleGateway Kindle Version Available I’m split on this one.  I like having a Bible with me to let my eyes wander.  However, the BibleGateway.com version is incredibly good.
Service Program Photograph each page prior to service.
Wednesday Pew Sheets Photograph each page prior to service.

All of these resources, I can manage much better with a lightweight tablet in the pew.  The paper programs trigger spasms in my arms while the heavy books stress the muscles, which in turn causes spasms.

Eliminating the paper increases my enjoyment of the service considerably.  Digitizing the resources allows a point-and-click interface.  Additionally, I can hold the tablet several different ways, rest it on the back of the pew or set the tablet on the seat of the pew in front of me.  Any of these methods are better than having spasms during service.

I hope that you may apply these techniques in your church.  In order that other people may benefit from my efforts, everything is made available on the service day’s calendar entry available through the St. Matthew’s Mobile App, or through the calendar hosted at Calendar.SMETechGuild.org.

In Christ,

Jay C. Theriot