As Ali Symons notes in a recent web article, the Amazing Grace Project gives us a wonderful window into the national life of the Anglican Church of Canada.
It also says a great deal about what we are and what we can be.
Watching the videos over the past 10 days, it has become very clear to me that the “national church” is far from just a building and staff in Toronto (though they’re part of it.) Rather it consists of ministries from coast to coast to coast through which God touches and transforms the life of the world. The life of the Anglican Church of Canada is intensely local. It takes place not “anywhere”, but in thousands of somewheres where people celebrate, learn and serve.
At the same time, our national church is something more than just the sum of Anglican ministries across the country. Our Primate, Fred Hiltz, captures some of what that “something more” is when he speaks of “our beloved church.”
The Amazing Grace Project goes behind the headlines—quarrelling and division, hurt and suspicion—to the common life of our church. Canadian Anglicans know we are part of something that is alive and purposeful, and that our diversities—racial, linguistic, geographic and theological—are part of that purpose.
The Amazing Grace Project tells us vividly that our unity has nothing to do with “sameness.” It has fashioned voices from across our church into a quilt of song, crafting our diversity into something both warming and lovely.
The Amazing Grace Project came out of an exercise at a national committee meeting that asked “What if?” “What if we wanted to ask Anglicans across Canada to express their faith? How would we do that?” Out of left field came the idea of singing, recording, and uploading congregations and ministries gathered to sing Amazing Grace. We called it “The Amazing Grace Project.”
The committee soon moved on to other business, but a couple of people, including staff members Lisa Barry and Bev Murphy, saw a real opportunity. A few weeks later, they met with some others, including Church House librarian Karen Evans, and started turning “What if?” into “Why not?” Little did webmaster Brian Bukowski suspect the hours he would spend uploading videos, sometimes long into the night.
I wonder what else we might make together. What other “What if?” is waiting to be uttered, and what other “Why not?” is ready to take up the challenge?
How else might we catch a glimpse of ministries across Canada and celebrate them as part of a common life that came together in 1893 at the first General Synod. The Primate, Archbishop Robert Machray, said at that time that we come together, not for harmony, but for strength.
It seems to me there is some harmony in this old church, after all. “‘Tis grace hath brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.”
The Rev. Michael Thompson is rector at St. Jude’s, Oakville, and chair of the Communications and Information Resources Committee.
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