The perfect binder for holding your service

Now that I’m on a roll, following my denunciation of water bottles in the pulpit, let me move to one of my other pet peeves: seeing ministers or other speakers move from behind a pulpit or lecturn and read from floppy bits of paper.

You know, peevishly reading from the order of service, held like a melting ice cream cone. Or worse, small notes, frail as butterflies, announcing church events. (Large index cards wouldn’t be so bad.) The gesture reads tentative or sloppy.

A good binder would help. Something you could slip sermon manuscripts into. Something that looks permanent.

Now, a three-ring binder wouldn’t look awful and would be an improvement from bare paper, but (1) some documents needn’t be punched and (2) sometimes flipping pages in a three-ring binder with one free hand takes an awkward, arching gesture.

The last time Hubby and I were in London, I bought a guide to lay preaching bound in a springback or thesis binder. Imagine a large, cloth-covered hardback book. Gut it, and fix the spine with a triangular strip of metal like an elongated binder clip. The covers hold the papers together. If you left a proper margin, you might not notice at first that what you were holding wasn’t a book.

I have found exactly one detailed discussion on this product: a recent blog entry by Aaron at anything but poetry (where you can also follow all the news about that hunky Daniel Craig.) This confirmed what I feared: these are hard to find, unless you order six, and they aren’t cheap. If you do find one, expect to pay at least $20. (UK readers will pay about the same for one in the A4 size, but online stationers seems to sell singles.)

  • Perhaps a minister’s group or church cluster could order a half-dozen? Perhaps not.
  • Some colleges sell them for their eponymous purpose: binding a thesis. Have you seen these in your campus bookstore? Do note.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 45, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

4 thoughts on “The perfect binder for holding your service

  1. Note–I decided to visit The George Washington University’s bookstore (21 & H). They do sell the thesis binders, from Roaring Spring, in the 1.5, 2, and 2.5 inch sizes, for $23-26 each. Not cheap–but at least you can buy them individually.

  2. I only use binders for times like weddings or funerals when I don’t have a pulpit or a lectern to use. the real trick of the trade is to slide your pages to the side. Folks in the pews should think that you have memorized everything and when they see you turn a page it breaks their dream that you are the greatest minister ever.

    If you are going to use a binder for weddings and funerals I always use one with clear plastic inserts after almost loosing a wedding on a very windy cliff top. I have at time blinded myself with the glare, so be careful.

  3. Hank: As before, binders for when one moves away from the pulpit or lectern. I agree with the sliding action; printing on cardstock might not even be too much.

    Per: I think that’s about the prevailing price. Good to know I can get them locally.

    Thanks to both.

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