How sweet the sound’ of Anglicans on YouTube

Published June 1, 2008

Anglicans are being invited to sing the hymn Amazing Grace as a statement of faith, and to send their video to the national church.

What began as an exercise in corporate communications could become the next sensation on the globally popular YouTube Web site, if the early buzz is any indication. The Amazing Grace Project is a simple idea, designed to unite Canada’s Anglicans in song and celebrate our common life and witness.

Here’s how it works: every Anglican parish and group across Canada is invited to sing the hymn Amazing Grace on November 23, to videotape it, and to send their videos to the General Synod church office in Toronto. The project’s organizers hope to have a compilation of these recordings posted on YouTube by Christmas, so that, as one organizer put it, “the whole world can celebrate Amazing Grace with us.”

“We think it will be a pretty important celebration of visible unity in the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Rev. Michael Thompson, one of the project’s proponents. As chair of the Communications and Information Resources committee of General Synod, Mr. Thompson was in at the birth of this idea. New committee members were being introduced to the work of the church’s communications department, and as an exercise were challenged to come up with a hypothetical way to encourage every member of the Anglican Church of Canada to deliver a personal statement of faith to General Synod. The idea of everybody singing a hymn together came out of that exercise, and the committee recognized its potential right away.

“While filming at native gatherings, I often feel the Holy Spirit right there,” said Anglican Video senior producer Lisa Barry. “It felt like that this time – that the Holy Spirit was lifting this project up.” After the meeting, a group of staff and committee members inspired by the idea started making plans.

Already, national indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald and the Council of the North bishops have taped their renditions of the well-known hymn. These can be seen on the Amazing Grace Web site, which can be accessed via the Anglican Church of Canada Web site as of mid-May.

Participants are also being invited each to contribute $2 to the Council of the North, a way for the project to support in a practical way the common life and ministry of the Anglican Church. At the 2007 General Synod, a motion of support for the Council of the North was passed unanimously. This will be a way of showing that support, the project organizers believe.  

Choosing Amazing Grace as the hymn to be sung was easy for the organizers. “It’s a hymn that’s everywhere in the church,” Mr. Thompson said. “It’s loved in many languages and cultures, a universal hymn with a simple and strong message of transformation.” The date of November 23 was chosen to coincide with the Feast of the Reign of Christ. “It’s deliberately low-tech,” Mr. Thompson said. “Any congregation with a couple of fifteen-year-olds on hand should be able to do it.”  

The great thing about this idea, Ms. Barry said, is that its simplicity leaves no room for negative reactions. “Everyone we’ve pitched the idea to, they immediately smile and say, ‘I’m in!'”

The Amazing Grace Project Web site is

H. Mel Malton is a writer and illustrator living in Nova Scotia.


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