From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[ENS] Eucharist imbued with the spirit of Anglican unity
"Mika Larson" <email@example.com>
Sun, 3 Aug 2003 17:03:39 -0400
August 3, 2003
Eucharist imbued with the spirit of Anglican unity
by Nan Cobbey and Sally Vallongo
[ENS] Music drew them the instant they entered the Minneapolis
Convention Center. Rousing sounds of a Sousa march, a massive gospel
choir, a jazz band filled the halls and spilled out the doors. By 9:50
a.m., when the procession started, nearly 5,000 had found their seats in
the mammoth auditorium for Sunday's Eucharist.
Most came early to sway along with the Revelation Choir and tap their
feet to Jazz on the Prairie, a smaller portion of the 50-member Eden
Prairie Community Band that accompanied almost all the morning's
Overhead, on a 34-foot screen behind the altar platform, images emerged,
faded and emerged again in a muted, sometimes mystical, sequence of
color and shape. Photos of sculpted stone and wood alternated with
bright collages of Africa, icons, artists' personal visions of heaven
and of earth.
The 200-plus choristers from 20 different Minnesota Episcopal churches
lived up to director Howard John Small's challenge during their early
morning rehearsal: "Give it your love as you sing." They did. So did
the Creekside Ringers from St. Stephen's Church in Edina as they
interpreted a haunting Japanese folk tune before the service and, during
the procession of 200 bishops, 400-plus clergy, created an cascading
cacophony of bells that sounded like a peel ringing out from on high.
On more than a dozen fabric-draped tables waited the glass chalices and
hand-made birch bark baskets ready to be carried forward at the
Offertory by members of the Youth Presence. One table in the back of
the hall, draped in green, held gluten-free bread for those who might
otherwise not be able to receive Communion. An equally thoughtful
offering of the worship planners stood at the corner of the altar
platform. As soon as the music began, the signers for the deaf started
interpreting lyrics, alternating, first one, then the other, the
graceful, expressive ballet of hands.
As the procession ended and all bishops and clergy took their places,
Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold declared to his gathered flock:
"Bendito sea Dios: Padre, Hijo y Espiritu Santo." The response, "and
blessed be his kingdom, now and forever" came in a number of languages
in addition to the Spanish provided in the service booklet.
The spirit of Anglican unity
"We are the new society God has called into being," proclaimed Nigerian
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. "It is one people reconciled, of every
color and culture, the one and only family of God."
In a 20-minute sermon notable for diplomacy, clarity, and fervor, the
chief pastor of the Kaduna province of the huge Church of Nigeria,
undoubtedly satisfied those who have been praying, like Bishop
Idowu-Fearon himself, for the unity of the church at a time of crisis.
"Our church family takes the Episcopal Church very seriously. When
America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. America, don't
sneeze too much," he said.
Drawing from the second reading, Ephesians 4, Idowu-Fearon described it
as a turning point for Paul - and, by inference, the church. "Paul is
moving from theology to its practical and concrete applications. I beg
you to lead a life that is worthy of that call."
Those who may have anticipated more pointed comment from the archbishop
on issues heating up the 74th convention had to content themselves with
reading between the lines of his eloquent message. "They had hardened
their hearts, they became callous, they gave themselves to immorality,"
he said, of the pre-Christian life Paul describes. Idowu-Fearon called
for Christians to "put off the old life, turning away from it in
distaste, and put on the new life."
More pointedly, he continued: "It's not possible to change the heart,
but it is possible to change the behavior. ... Changing one's dress,
one's attitudes, and one's behavior are essential to becoming
Christian. But we are mistaken if we think it's all up to God. The way
you behave is the way you become."
Deputy Sandie Brochak from Southern Ohio said, "He made some good points
- very pertinent to what's going on here. There's more of a subtle
message, but if you were looking for it, it was very direct."
Still, the archbishop refrained from any detailed directives reflecting
the more conservative stance of the Church of Nigeria, second largest,
after the Church of England, of the member provinces of the Anglican
Communion. Instead, he called for kindness, compassion and forgiving
Referring to his five-year relationship with Frank Griswold - they met
at the 1998 Lambeth Convention - Idowu-Fearon said, "Frank, you've
taught me a lot. I'm beginning to understand American culture."
New York Bishop Mark Sisk praised the sermon. "I'm grateful that he
spoke kind words about the presiding bishop. He deserves kind words.
[Idowu-Fearon] spoke out of his African context, recognizing our
American context. It was splendid."
A former military school student in leadership training, the archbishop
said. "I'm the only general from my class still serving in the army -
of Jesus Christ."
In Nigeria, he noted, becoming a Christian marks a major change in a
person's entire life. "Public baptism marks the passage from the realm
of estrangement, paganism and darkness to the realm of Christianity."
Noting that he had found Christ at age 12, he said, "I've never been the
In the spirit of Anglican unity, Idowu-Fearon concluded: "We have to
repent and to come to Christ and be reconciled to him. Then, we will be
able to build bridges."
The service ended the way it began, with spirited music, the uplifting
sound of joined voices: "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" brought the
service to a close and John Philip Sousa's "Minnesota March"
accompanied the crowd back into the world, back to their historic time
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