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New elements shape assembly worship.

Asked to come up with a creative approach to Joint Assembly's eucharistic celebrations, the worship planning team certainly delivered.

The opening liturgy began with video clips of people from across Canada offering the greeting from 2 Corinthians: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

During the opening hymn, a 12-foot-tall inukshuk, a traditional marker for Arctic travellers, was reassembled into an altar for the eucharist, a font for a remembrance of baptism and an ambo for scripture readings.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz presided at Holy Communion, and the ELCIC's national bishop, Susan Johnson, delivered the sermon, exhorting delegates to live out their baptismal commitment to bear witness to God's word in the world--beginning at Joint Assembly.

Five days later, as the historic gathering drew to a close, drummers pounding West African goblet drums called djembes greeted the 500 delegates as they gathered in the plenary hall for final eucharist. That celebration, too, introduced innovative elements into the liturgy.

This time, Johnson presided and Hiltz preached. He urged his listeners to go out and act on issues on which Joint Assembly took positions, such as responsible resource extraction and universal access to clean water and affordable housing.

Led by Canon William Cliff and accompanied by a djembe and a pebble-filled Indonesian rainstick, the freestyle prayers of the people echoed the assembly's focus on water, homelessness and the exploitation of natural resources.

Annie Smith-St. Georges, the Algonquin elder who had previously welcomed Joint Assembly delegates and visitors to her First Nation's traditional territory, bade them Godspeed in their journey home.

In their dismissal, Hiltz and Johnson invoked the assembly's theme: "May you journey in hope towards a vision that brings us together for the love of the world."

As the audience sang the concluding hymn, the worship team reassembled the inukshuk and encircled it as the deacon dismissed the historic gathering with the words, "Go forth for the love of the world."

Caption: The inukshuk became the altar, a font and an ambo for the proclamation of the word.
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Title Annotation:JOINT ASSEMBLY
Author:Myers, Bruce
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:Jun 22, 2013
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