Conference to explore worship as response to disaster

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With disasters becoming more frequent in Canada and around the world, organizers of the National Anglican and Lutheran Worship Conference hope to provide “tools for thinking about how we can lament together appropriately, in ways that are theologically helpful.” Photo: John McColgan/Wikimedia Commons

The National Anglican and Lutheran Worship Conference will take place July 16-19, 2018, in Victoria, organized around the theme “responding to disaster.”

Disaster is “something that affects us all,” says the Very Rev. Ansley Tucker, Anglican co-chair of the conference and dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, diocese of British Columbia.

“There seems to be not a year that goes by that there isn’t some kind of devastating national disaster,” says Tucker, pointing to the fires, floods and tornados experienced in Canada, as well as hurricanes, famines and droughts across the globe—not to mention human acts of violence. “We began to ask, ‘How does the church respond?’ ” she says. “We don’t have liturgical resources ready to hand to deal with these kinds of disasters, and it leaves clergy and worship leaders making it up as they go along.”

Tucker says that, from an Anglican perspective, the movement of liturgical renewal in the 1960s kicked off a trajectory that was “trying to step away from a whole dour, sombre liturgy that many felt emphasized sin.” She says, “Everything became a celebration—even a funeral is called a ‘celebration of life’…I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have done those things, but I am saying that in our liturgical resources, we lost access to means of lament.”

This conference, she says, is an attempt to “give people some tools for thinking about how we lament together appropriately, in ways that are theologically helpful and defensible.”

The biennial gathering was originally a conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, to which the Anglican Church of Canada was invited in 2002, in the spirit of celebrating the full communion relationship between the two churches.

This year, the conference’s keynote speaker will be the Rev. Lizette Larson-Miller, professor of liturgy and Huron-Lawson chair in moral and pastoral theology at Huron University College in London, Ont.

Workshops include a panel of first responders who have dealt with disaster firsthand, a discussion on working across multi-faith lines, using art as therapy after a disaster, “authoring laments,” and creating sacred space.

The Rev. Lizette Larson-Miller, professor of liturgy and Huron-Lawson chair in moral and pastoral theology at Huron University College in London, Ont., will be the conference’s keynote speaker this year. Photo: Contributed

The Rev. Eileen Scully, director of faith, worship and ministry for the Anglican Church of Canada, will co-lead a workshop during which participants will sing through a sampling of hymns from the forthcoming Anglican hymn book supplement to Common Praise.

Chad Fothergill, an organist, composer, writer and doctoral musicology student, researching the Lutheran Cantor tradition in its Reformation-era and present-day contexts, will be the conference musician.

Tucker says she is excited to spend time with other people who “want to think creatively about liturgy that actually connects with people in their lived experience.”

The conference is open to “anybody who has an interest in how the church worships,” and Tucker says will be helpful for clergy, musicians and anyone involved in pastoral responses.

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Joelle Kidd
Joelle Kidd joined the Anglican Journal in 2017 as staff writer. She has worked as an editor and writer for the Winnipeg-based Fanfare Magazine Group and as freelance copy editor for Naida Communications.

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