The 541 members of the Joint Assembly spent an hour on the first afternoon in a community-building session intended to help the Anglicans and Lutherans sitting at each of the 83 tables to get to know each other better.
The Rev. Joel Crouse from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Ottawa and Archdeacon Peter John Hobbs, director of mission for the Anglican diocese of Ottawa, set a light-hearted tone for the session with a comedic introduction. That included a short video appearance as Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Bishop Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, with Crouse as a primate in a gorilla mask and Hobbs in a white wig.
They also used the session to test the electronic clicker voting system to be used throughout the assembly, asking the delegates to vote on fun questions and trivia, and immediately showing the results on screen.
Finally, members were asked to work creatively with their tablemates to create some artistic sculptures that will be displayed later in an installation during the five-day event.
Siri Olesen, a member from Redeemer Lutheran church in Vancouver, said the Anglicans and Lutherans at her table had already been introducing themselves and conversing, but “it was nice to have a bit of time when our attention was not directed toward the screens and to interact with each other.” She and her tablemates wrote prayers or poems or drew on pieces of paper, then wrapped them in colourful tissue paper that they wove together.
Paula Desrosiers, a member from Good Shepherd, Barr Haven, Ont., said she was excited to be at Joint Assembly “because I just feel that the way of the future is the Anglican-Lutheran joint ministry.” And she speaks from the perspective of someone who is already part of a joint Anglican-Lutheran parish. Good Shepherd, she explained, is one of the few parishes in Canada where worship services are truly integrated, not alternating between Lutheran and Anglican liturgies. “We use both prayer books and hymn books,” she said.