What started as an orientation exercise for a national communications committee has turned into an unprecedented display of unity and generosity by thousands of members of the Anglican Church of Canada in congregations right across the country.
More than 500 of about 2,000 congregations that make up the Anglican Church of Canada responded to a request to come together in song on Sunday, Nov. 23, by singing the hymn Amazing Grace. As requested, participants videotaped themselves singing the beloved hymn and then deluged the church's General Synod offices in Toronto with the videos.
Since then, more than 500 of these contributions have been posted to YouTube and today, a 10-minute compilation video that includes segments from every contribution received before Dec. 1 will be posted to the Anglican national website www.anglican.ca.
Canadian Anglican participants involved in the project were also invited to contribute a toonie to support the Anglican Church's Council of the North, a group of dioceses involved in work and ministry in Canada's North. They responded to that request with donations that total more than $30,000 to date.
The project ended up requiring an unexpected tour de force from Lisa Barry, senior producer of Anglican Video which produced the compilation released today-Amazing Together-and from website staff who worked virtually around the clock on the YouTube postings.
Amazing Together provides a never-before-seen glimpse of a church united in a simple exercise of worship and faith.
And although organizers had no idea of what the response would be when they issued the challenge, that was exactly what it was supposed to do.
A year ago, the Anglican church's communications committee was invited to puzzle over how Canadian Anglicans could come together is a "statement of faith." What form should such a statement take?
The idea of asking all church members to sing Amazing Grace on the same Sunday emerged from that. "From the beginning, several of us-committee members and staff-felt that the idea could be made to happen," says Ms Barry. "We took it from there and the response was overwhelming."
Amazing Together shows Anglicans in song in churches across the country, on beaches in the Maritimes, in small groups in the North, around a fireplace, on a Newfoundland wharf, in a prison-and there is even a contribution put together from Kandahar in Afghanistan. Anglican bishops at last summer's Lambeth conference sang Amazing Grace as did workers in an AIDS hospice in South Africa.
There are bagpipe versions, a kettledrum version, full-accompaniment versions, a cappella versions and even a rap rendition. Amazing Together stands as a strong example of what Canadian Anglicans can do when something captures their imagination, said Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, the General Secretary of General Synod. "We often hear church unity described as a fragile thing," he said. "This demonstrates conclusively that in the hearts and minds of Anglicans from coast to coast to coast, the church is strong and it is united."
For more information, please contact Lisa Barry, senior producer, Anglican Video: email@example.com, (416) 924-9199 ext 295; or Vianney (Sam) Carriere, director of communications:
firstname.lastname@example.org, (416) 924-9199, ext. 306