Saturday, June 30, 2007

Anglican Way Institute Conference

We know things were busy this year when none of my faculty’s blogs were touched for months at a time. Mine has been DOA since January. I’m breathing a bit now that school’s over and the choir tour is done and my trip to Dallas is completed.

I am now hoping to be just a bit more consistent in my posts. The first thing I would like to make mention of is the Anglican Way Institute Conference. This was the reason for my trip to Dallas. The Institute is brand new and was just started with a bang in Dallas with the conference. The Institute is about helping to strengthen the “youngest adult generation” and, practically, I think, connect them and help them to know that they are not alone in this traditional Anglican practice. After all, with only a few young people in a parish, the young adults might seem a little odd to the culture at large--even to the Christian culture.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing for me was the number of attendees. The conference did not have exceptional advertisement, nor even lead time, yet there were some 60 attendees between the ages of 18 and 35. Add in the old priests and their younger wives, and there were almost 100 in attendance.

The topic under discussion by Bishop Ray Sutton was worship. In the keynote addresses, Bishop Sutton walked through the topic from a number of angles. He showed the basic, biblical pattern of worship and how the Anglican liturgy is in historic continuity not only with the biblical pattern, but with the oldest liturgies of the Church--especially the connection with the liturgy of St. John the Divine of Ephesus. He talked of the shaping power of the worship of the Church and the types of prayer that Churchmen have always participated in--Eucharistic, daily corporate prayer, and family or personal prayer. He connected a lot of dots for a lot of people and that too was encouraging. Perhaps some notes of Dr. Sutton’s talks will appear on the Anglican Way Institute website.

All the old priests were there to give workshops. We had them in evangelism, incarnational theology, architecture, the arts, education, courting, John Donne, and my workshop, which was titled “ Everyday Anglicanism From Worship to Work: Embodying the Counter-cultural Ethos of the Gospel.” Perhaps in my next post, I’ll sketch out what we talked about.

The only thing missing was a call to arms, so to speak. I’m sure that will come later, but I missed the call to follow Christ no matter what. What has God called each of us to? Have we listened? Are we too afraid? The young folks at the conference are just idealistic enough and perhaps trusting enough to follow God where He leads. Let us hope that we all are. After all, we only go around this merry-go-round once. Will we consider the calling God gives us? Will we seek to join those ordinary people that have done great things for the Kingdom merely because they were obedient to God? That might mean joining a monastery for one and managing billions of dollars for another. What we do know, though, is that God has something particular for us to do; we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and then to act.

All in all, a great start to something that needs to continue, not just in a yearly conference, but organically, amongst those who attended and those who they will pull into the orbit of the conversation. I trust and pray that it will be so, as the Church desperately needs to have a strong foundation of young people serving and leading.