Documentary carries Anglican stories of faith in action

Published March 17, 2011

Toronto’s Cathedral Church of St. James is featured in an ongoing documentary project produced by Trinity Wall Street, Anglican Communion Stories. Photo:Shutterstock

The Cathedral Church of St. James, with its tower and spire rising more than 300 feet above the corner of King and Church Streets is easily one of Toronto’s most recognizable architectures.

Now, it has also become part of an ongoing documentary project called Anglican Communion Stories.

Designed to show the transformative work being carried out by Anglicans around the world, the 10-minute video documentary on St. James, Toronto: Commitment to Service, is one of eight segments completed so far by American journalist and author Jim Melchiorre for Trinity Wall Street. It is available to the public for viewing here.

The idea for the project came immediately following the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of bishops from the Anglican Communion.

“People in the Anglican Communion don’t all look the same, they speak scores of different languages and dialects, and their religious traditions have been shaped by unique historical experiences including, in many cases, colonialism,” writes Melchiorre in an article published on the Trinity Wall Street website. “Yet, every day, in all those diverse places, folks are working hard at ministries designed to bring a message of Christian hope to the world.”

Melchiorre notes that in recent years, news stories about Anglicans have focused mainly on deep divisions over sexuality.

“As a journalist for much of my life, I understand why such controversies are reported and, in fact, must be reported. But those are stories about Church as an institution,” he says. “There’s another kind of ‘church’ story, about Church as a movement of spirit.”

A Tuesday drop-in program at St. James, notes Melchiorre in the documentary, is in keeping with the church’s belief that “you have to connect with people directly.” It has now become a weekly tradition that says “everybody is welcome.”

The documentary features interviews with St. James’ Dean and rector, The Very Rev. Douglas Stoute, and the tireless army of volunteers who run various programs and ministries. They include Gloria Wiebe, parish nurse, who volunteers at the Tuesday drop-in program and the weekly jail visitations, and Bill Britnell, who volunteers at St. James’ Cemetery and Crematorium, the city’s oldest operating cemetery.

Anglican Communion Stories also features inspiring Anglican ministries in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Great Plains of South Dakota, New Orleans, Eastern Kentucky (in the region commonly referred to as Appalachia), and others.

The stories are “only marginally about what goes on inside church buildings, although we do try to provide a sense of the unique styles that people in different locales bring to their worship,” writes Melchiorre. “A more important goal is to provide a glimpse of the rich culture of a community, including music, food, transportation, and how that culture helps to define its service to others.”

Witnessing and documenting how people, most of them living “with fewer creature comforts than most of us do,” have put their faith into action has been “both inspiring and humbling,” writes Melchiorre.

He expresses the hope that watching the stories will help Anglicans around the world “see opportunities to connect, whether in prayer, with financial support, or by adopting proven models of service for their own congregations.”


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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