For most active members of the clergy, the weekly day of rest is, ironically, the day they really hit the ground running. That’s especially true for the Rev. Brad Mittleholtz, Lutheran pastor and Anglican priest, who heads seven congregations in Ontario’s scenic Bruce Peninsula.
Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada in 2003 and inducted in the Anglican diocese of Huron in 2007, Mittleholtz has his home base at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wiarton. And for the past three years, he’s been incumbent priest and pastor of the six-congregation Anglican parish of the Bruce, part of LAAMB (Lutheran and Anglican Ministries of the Bruce).
“Our winter schedule only serves four congregations, but we add two more, plus a chapel, during the summer,” Mittleholtz says. Even with help from lay leaders and summer divinity interns from Huron College, Sundays involve a lot of driving, as Mittleholtz plies the roads between Wiarton and towns north of it, such as Lion’s Head and Tobermory.
Once a month, his Anglican congregations have Lutheran Sunday, when the services follow Lutheran worship in the “Cranberry Book” instead of the BAS “Green Book.”
According to Mittleholtz, the basic order of Anglican and Lutheran worship is the same, but there are differences. “For example,the Lutheran confession, petition for forgiveness and absolution come at the beginning of the service, not in the middle,” he says. And Lutherans have no counterpart to the doxology, which he describes as “a wonderful gift.”
On the whole, the Anglican liturgy features more choir-only singing; Lutheran congregations sing more of the service. Unsurprisingly, Lutheran worship also features more German composers.
“And at the end of the service, Lutherans tend to get right up and go to coffee, whereas Anglicans pause in the pews, kneeling or fake-kneeling to pray or meditate,” he says. “Worship is not quite over for them.”
Priestly vestments may differ, too. “One Sunday, I wore a chasuble in an Anglican service, and the congregation asked, ‘Is that a Lutheran thing?’ ” Mittleholtz recalls.
Although the Lutheran church does not formally refer to congregations as high-, middle- or low-church, Mittleholtz says there are plenty of incense-burning “smells and bells” churches in the ELCIC.
Quite apart from differences between the two LAAMB denominations, diversity also thrives within his six-point Anglican parish. “Even BAS, page 185, can be done differently from place to place. Having this diversity of congregations is the wonderful thing about my ministries here,” says Mittleholz, who will soon move to a new parish in Sault Ste. Marie.
Some Anglicans insist on addressing him as Father Brad, and Mittleholtz is fine with that. But when introducing himself, he calls himself pastor and priest. “As pastor, I listen and pray,” he says.” The priest is my worship role.”