3 is out

Like Michelle Murrain, I’ve been using the free and open-source office suite “before it was” — thanks to the good example of the Labarum military chaplaincy liturgy site, which released some of its files in the older Star Office format.

I’m also glad the new version of has, for the first time, a native release for all you Mac users out there. (Both Intel and PowerPC chip sets, she reminds.) At the same time, I’m going through the available extension to see what might be useful for an office setting, and particularly for churches. Extensions was what gave the Firefox browser so much of its appeal; perhaps is about to break out? (I’m especially interested in an extension that allows the editing of existing PDFs.)

And the price (free of charge, as well as free to be modified and redistributed) is right, especially in this economy.

Do go grab it, or upgrade. Three million others have.

With this post, and long overdue, I’m opening the category FOSS, meaning “free and open-source software”

The Sunday-only calendar

PeaceBang asked for a Sundays-only calendar template. Here’s my first draft: both as a PDF and ODS, the later a spreadsheet that can be read and written in Google Docs and

New for 2017. Since this blog post still gets alot of readers, and requests,including one today for a 2017 version. I’m happy to oblige.

You can also edit the OSD file in LibreOffice and (so it seems) newer versions of Microsoft Office. I included December 2016 and January 2018.

Continue reading The Sunday-only calendar

Automating orders of service, part 2

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

Personalized information

If you installed 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 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.

Automating orders of service with

One of the most frustrating, time-consuming tasks I had when I was in parish ministry was getting the order of service printed right. Not written, but printed. Either I did it myself or with an assistant with rounds of edits. And still there’d be typos or skewed margins. I’m working up a robust solution and working out the process in this blog. Why show the messy details? So you can adapt the results when I’m done and not passively use what would work for me, but perhaps not you. (Indy Catholics and other full-text-in-hand traditions: press me for details that pertain to your needs.)

Because this is a bit involved, I’m releasing it in chunks. Which is fine: so many of my readers are either at General Assembly or at the beach. (It’ll be done by the time you’re back.)

For this, you will need your church’s liturgy or an assortment of recent orders of service and a computer with 2.4, the most recent update of a popular free and open-source office productivity suite. It’s available for Windows and Linux, and a less-than-glorious version for the Mac. (All should be well by September when a 3.0 version is released for all these operating systems.)

Here’s what I’m doing to automate a liturgy for variant uses as an order of service. I think this could be useful for a church at many different size levels, though not all churches would use all options. While this is based on the Universalist 1894 morning prayer service, the process could be adapted to any number of services, including those which (from the outside) seem much “freer.”

  1. If you have a rite, cut and paste, or type out, the liturgy into Writer, the word processor; clean up any gremlins that appear.
  2. If you have orders of service with headings dominating, insert these. Add names for liturgical elements, as suggested in the rite like Prelude, Hymn and Sermon, where missing but logical. Include all options, each in their own line in the case of directions or customs like “After that shall be sung the following Psalm, or a Hymn, unannounced.”
  3. Mark headings with tags: Heading 1 for the name of the service, Heading 2 for elements, Heading 3 for parts of an element, where applicable. Say, names of particular prayers in a sequence.

Detail from

You can see all your options for headings and other style features by pressing the F11 key.

Save and name your work, and we’ll start adding sections next time.

Helping Lower Walnut: office suite

It’s no secret I love It’s no secret that there’s a new 2.4 release and a beta for the 3.0 release out. Perhaps less well known is that you can run Windows and use (The 3.0 version, with full release due in September, should benefit long-suffering Mac users.)

The Rev. Angela Mather knew her colleague J.W. at the nearby Asbury-Judson Larger Parish is a Linux freak — first out of cost necessity, later on principle — and this was her concern. For now, she wanted a tool, not a cause. But it turns out the office suite an easy download from With a high-speed connection, the download and using all the default settings (best for most people) it takes about a half hour.

High-speed connections are rare in Wolastoq County, so J.W. gave Angela a copy of on CD-ROM, which she could then copy or share freely. Or, as J.W. put it, “to share the love.”

J.W. offered this additional bit of advice: once you’re in, go to Tools > Options and fill in the User Data, which are the fields that you see when that window pops up. “That will help with automating office practices later.”

User data in