This is the last article in a series of seven in which Matthew Puddister, Anglican Journal staff writer, presents Anglican and Lutheran perspectives about matters of mutual importance.
Preparing documents for shared worship at the 2021 Anglican Lutheran National Worship Conference (NWC), the Rev. Andrew Rampton, priest-incumbent at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Winnipeg and NWC co-chair, often found himself reminding fellow organizers they needed approval for certain liturgies or resources.
“For Anglicans, there’s a lot more emphasis on authorization [from dioceses and bishops for] what we can and can’t use in worship … Some things have been approved for general use, but other things you need to ask or be careful about,” he says. “Particularly when you have Anglicans and Lutherans worshipping together … I’m always saying to people, ‘No, that’s a really cool idea, but you’d have to do A, B and C before you can get there.”
The NWC, taking place every two years, provides a forum for members of each church to learn more about how the other approaches worship, with workshops on topics such as preaching, prayer and music.
Fortunately for Rampton, his Lutheran NWC co-chair, the Rev. Chung Yan Lam, had a great deal of experience worshipping with Anglicans. A pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), Lam was serving as a priest in the Anglican parish of Blackburn-Navan-Bearbrook, in the diocese of Ottawa, as this issue was headed to press, and was about to begin priesting at All Saints, Westboro, in the same diocese.
Being aware of where the boundaries that mark different worship practices are—and when they might need to ask permission—has been key to ensuring shared worship goes well, Rampton and Lam say. “Part of how we work well together is that both of us are very well aware of where those lines are,” Lam says of organizing the 2021 NWC with Rampton.
Like the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering, the NWC began as a purely Lutheran affair, but became a joint undertaking with Anglicans after the two churches’ 2001 agreement on full communion.
The conference often brings Lutherans and Anglicans in contact with new worship practices. Rampton recalls planning one evening worship service, intended to be a screening of one of the gospel jamborees the Anglican Church of Canada has hosted and recorded. “We literally had someone ask, ‘Is a gospel jamboree worship?’ … because they had never encountered this thing before,” Rampton says.
Lam says her ministry has also shown her examples of how full communion provides new experiences of worship.
“What I really was so struck by when I first [led] a worship service with an Anglican church is the [congregation’s] familiarity with the words,” Lam says. She remembers telling her congregation to turn to a certain page in the Book of Alternative Services, only to find many worshippers already knew the liturgy by heart. Another time, a man stood up after Lam did her blessing at the end of the service and said, “You forgot the doxology!”
“The Anglican liturgy is much easier to do on a day where I just had a horrible week, my brain’s not quite all on … I can just go through the liturgy because everybody knows it,” Lam says. “The community carries the worship, and it’s not so much on me having to carry one thing to another … I like that community sense and feel.”
Rampton, for his part, has a highly favourable view of the Lutheran attitude to liturgy—a sense of “holy envy,” he says, of “the Lutheran commitment to always be interrogating and revising their worship resources”—a willingness to be in constant conversation about how worship materials can be improved upon.
“The fact that that cycle and flow seems built into the ELCIC DNA—people just expect that they’re going to get new and revised worship resources on a regular basis—is something that I am definitely envious of,” he says.