Automating orders of service, part 2

Now that I have the order of service in an OpenOffice.org Writer document with some style added, we can break it up and add some fields.

Personalized information

If you installed OpenOffice.org like I suggested in my “Helping Lower Walnut: office suite” post, you would have filled in some user data. (I recommend the name of the church as “company” and the name details referring to the minister, in sole pastorates.)

Now, we’ll take advantage of those settings.

At the very top, I’m going to personalize the order of service for your congregation; you can make a template the same way and share it so others have the same benefit.

Select Insert > Fields > Other. Select the Document tab (the first one) and select Sender in the left-most column. Click fields which name the company/church, address, phone and what have you. These fields appear as gray boxes with text, and you can add spaces and punctuation to flesh it out.

Select Insert > Fields > Date for options to add a date field. You can offset the date by a particular number of days. If, say, you always make the Sunday order of worship on the previous Thursday, you can offset the date by three days in the future.

Breaking the service into sections

OpenOffice.org Writer allows you to insert sections into a document that can have attributes applied to them. In particular, we can code them so that some print at particular times and not others. So first we need to break the service into its constituent parts.

For each liturgical element, I created (as appropriate) a section called “head,” “rubric” and “text.” I also flirted with a section called “notes.” The head is for the title and filling in details, such as the name of the sermon or which hymn is selected for a particular service. The rubric is the directions to the minister, leader or congregation. The text is the text of the liturgical element itself. Some don’t have rubrics. Some don’t have texts, as with the sermon. All have a head. Here are they named in the Navigator box.

To create a section, use your mouse to select the appropriate text and go to Insert > Section. Name the section and select Insert. Repeat for each element; this took me about an hour. (Or you can download the project to date here: order-of-worship-project_20080626.)

Now save your work, or review that file, and we’ll meet next time.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 44, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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