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Anglican-Lutheran assembly: earthquakes, goose bumps, 14-hour days

Posted on: July 8, 2013 5:13 PM
The historic Anglican-Lutheran Joint Assembly ended with a closing eucharist that combined the traditional shape of a eucharistic liturgy will creative innovations.
Photo Credit: Art Babych
Related Categories: Canada, Ecumenical, Lutheran

ACNS with reporting by Anglican Journal staff

[For all the news from the Assembly visit]

At the end of the first-ever Joint Assembly between Canada's Anglicans and Lutherans a new diocese had been formed, committees were abolished, and resolutions were agreed on Palestine-Israel, homelessness, resource extraction, and the selection of indigenous bishops.

Around 500 delegates from both Christian traditions met over  five days in Ottawa, Canada, for what appears to have been a positive time of fellowship, sharing and co-operation.

Members of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) met, ate and worshipped together, only separating into the Anglican General Synod and the ELCIC National Convention for matters that required votes by each legal body.

The Anglican Journal, writing about yesterday’s 'open mic' session reported that “attendees stepped up to the mic with sincere prayers – and constructive gripes that may help the next assembly go even more smoothly than this one did.”

Speakers praised the prayer time provided in the agenda and the openness of attendees and their willingness to talk about anything.  In poignant commentary on the five days of Anglican-Lutheran fellowship, Bishop David Parsons of the diocese of the Arctic spoke of “a great earthquake in the Communion,” and said, “My knees are shaking.”

Speaking of General Synod’s groundbreaking decision to create a new indigenous diocese, an aboriginal attendee said, “I had goose bumps up and down my spine and my arms.” She added that the historic event showed her that “with the Creator, everything is possible.”

The new northern Ontario diocese—whose name will be determined by aboriginal elders and other church and community members in September—will cover 16 First Nations communities belonging to Treaty 9 around Kingfisher Lake, north of Sioux Lookout. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, who was elected in 2010, is the current area bishop.

Co-operation between the delegates – 291 Anglicans and 274 Lutherans – went beyond the walls of the Ottawa Convention Centre. Hundreds converged on Parliament Hill on Saturday morning for a prayer event intended to draw attention to the issue of access to clean water, particularly in aboriginal communities.

Led by Lutheran and Anglican youth, the event gathered people into circles of 12 on the walk in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.  Volunteers held long ribbons of turquoise cloth that sparkled in the sun and cascaded down the steps like a waterfall. The ribbons were later carried through the crowd after the service.

It was decided that, what some might see as more controversial topics for the Anglican Church, the Anglican Covenant and same-sex marriage, will be addressed at the 2016 General Synod in Toronto.

Still, a long and passionate debate on the issue of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel did take place. It resulted in the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod passing a resolution reiterating the established positions of the church, which “recognise the legitimate aspirations, rights and needs of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with dignity within sovereign and secure borders; condemns the use of all kinds of violence, especially against civilians; calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza); and calls upon Israel, as an occupying power, to recognise the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer and settlement of its citizen in occupied territories. ”

However, the resolution also called on Canadian Anglicans to take some new steps, including educating themselves more deeply about the issue.

After months of planning, hundreds of volunteers and staff, five days of fellowship and meeting together, the first-ever Joint Assembly of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada was brought to an end on Sunday with a flourish of beating drums, rousing hymns, and an exhortation to “go forth for the love of the world.”

The next official large-scale opportunity for Anglicans and Lutherans in Canada to meet together will be in 2014 at the Anglican-Lutheran National Worship Conference in Edmonton.