When Pam Thomson went on vacation to Cuba last February, she wanted to find a local Anglican congregation. The beaches of Varadero were beautiful, sure, but it was Ash Wednesday and she wanted to worship in her tradition.
The problem was that the resort staff had no idea where the Anglican churches were. They sent her off in a taxi to a different church that ultimately was a disappointment.
The Anglican Church of Canada in fact has resources for travellers like Ms. Thomson who want to connect with local Anglican congregations and communities while travelling for work or pleasure.
Dr. Andrea Mann, General Synod’s global relations coordinator, is the hub of such help. She can advise travellers on where to worship and brief them on historic relationships in that area. For instance, there may be schools or development projects that have been supported by Canadian Anglicans, or a local priest who once studied in Canada.
Ms. Mann can also provide tips for those visiting other worship spaces—say synagogues, temples, or mosques—during their travels.
Like much trip-planning these days, some basics are already available online. Churches like the Episcopal Church (USA) or the Church of England have online parish finders that usually connect to church addresses and service times.
Sometimes knowledge of church structure is handy. For those travelling in Europe, the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe is the place to start, though it expands beyond the continent-from Turku, Finland to Casablanca, Morocco.
For vacationers heading to Cuba, General Synod has recently addedan updated online list of parish addresses, so people like Ms. Thomson can more easily connect from a resort. The Anglican Church of Canada has a longstanding relationship with the Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba and more information is available in the online hub.
For many Anglicans, the rhythm of spiritual life continues during vacations.
“We may be lying on the beach but taking out an identifiable piece of time to worship is important because our faith doesn’t go on holiday,” said Ms. Thomson, who worships at Church of the Redeemer, Toronto.
She remembers a former priest who encouraged parishioners to bring back bulletins and pamphlets from churches they visited. These materials would be posted on a bulletin board as a sign of Christian fellowship.
Travellers can also pick up ideas for what to do in their own church, added Ms. Thomson. They can be inspired by architecture, music, or even preaching.
Ms. Mann notes that such experiences can deepen faith.
“The familiar is comfortable, lovely, certainly nurturing, and often positive,” she said, “But it is just helpful in one’s spiritual journey and sometimes transformative to worship in a different church, in a different country.”
This is possible throughout the Anglican Communion, which includes churches in more than 160 countries. There is opportunity for both familiarity and variation.
“I’ve sat in Anglican worship services in Sri Lanka and I know where we are in the service because of the cadence of the liturgy,” said Ms. Mann.
“‘Amen,’ is the same in almost every language.”
To learn more about finding Anglican churches while travelling, or to share your stories of travel and worship, email Dr. Andrea Mann, global relations coordinator.
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