More than 200 Lutherans and Anglicans from across Canada are gathering this week at the Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton for the biennial National Worship Conference that runs from July 20 to 23.
“It’s educational, formational and it’s community building, too. People will meet and share ideas and resources,” Eileen Scully, director of the Anglican Church of Canada’s faith, worship and ministry (FWM) department, told the Anglican Journal from the conference centre. Many of those attending are clergy and church musicians.
Lutherans from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada first created the conference more than 20 years ago, and in the spirit of their full communion relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada, invited Anglicans to take part in the conference in 2002. The first joint conference was in 2004, but Scully observed that “this is the first year it seems to have really taken off with Anglicans.” The attendees are almost evenly divided between Lutheran and Anglican, and she said that there had been friendly banter between organizers as to which church would have the most participants. Scully noted that the 2014 conference marks the 10th anniversary of the conference as a full communion event.
The theme of the conference is “Weaving Strands: Liturgy for Living,” and one of two keynote speakers is the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, a dean and professor of liturgics at the
Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., who also chairs a standing commission on liturgy and music for The Episcopal Church. Her first address will centre on the question “What do liturgy and mission have to do with each other?” and the second on “How can we design liturgy that makes a difference in people’s lives?”
Organist, composer and conductor Dr. David Cherwien, cantor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minn., and artistic director of the National Lutheran Choir based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, will speak on the themes of “Weaving the Poetic, Prophetic, Priestly Natures of Liturgical Music” and “What Language Shall I Borrow? It’s about more than Organs, Choirs or Praise Bands.”
The workshop leaders include Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada; Bishop Larry Kochendorfer of the ELCIC’s Synod of Alberta and the Territories, and Bishop Jane Alexander of the Anglican diocese of Edmonton.
Scully and members of the Anglican Liturgy Task Force will be leading a workshop and a three-hour, post-conference FWM consultation about the future of liturgical texts, particularly a revision of the Book of Alternative Services. “It’s the liturgy task force really seeking input about what the church wants in revised texts, mainly Sunday eucharist at this point and baptism,” said Scully.
Following the theme of the conference, Scully said she hopes to focus on “connections between liturgy and life, worship and mission.” For example, she noted, “If we are really serious about the Marks of Mission,…about becoming a more missionally centred and driven church, how do we want to see that reflected and shaped in our liturgical texts?”
Consultation participants will also look at different baptismal rites that are being used in several other provinces of the Anglican Communion, including one that sparked some controversy in the Church of England because, among other things, it dropped references to the devil. “It was a big issue in England, but in fact, in the Scottish Episcopal Church, they’ve dropped the devil for a long time now—over 10 years—so that’s one of the texts that we’re putting out before people,” said Scully. “It’s all one baptism but with different sorts of ways of framing it and [asking] what speaks to you.”