Singing A New Song: Faithful Witness Amidst Tides of Change

 on September 27, 2022

“How can (I) sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?“ Psalm 137: 4 

One of the amazing things about the Anglican Communion is that no matter where we are in God’s global village there is a link which may be discovered within the small family we know as the Church.

Since March 8 of this year, I have had the unique privilege of serving as the Interim Priest-in-Charge at St. George’s, Guelph. After 43 years of parish ministry in the Dioceses of Toronto, Fredericton, and Huron, as well as a seven-year retirement, I entered the COVID-19 pandemic-shaped ministry of 2022. I could not stop reflecting on the question posed by the Psalmist—how will I sing the Lord’s song in this moment and place? 

In 1963 the Anglican Church of Canada hosted the Anglican Congress. Clergy and laity gathered together to reflect on the mission and ministry of the Church. Out of that dialogue emerged a statement which was offered as a framework around which an Anglican identity could be defined in every part of the Communion. Anglicans were and are called upon to see ourselves as “mutually responsible and interdependent members of the body of Christ.” 

Looking back over the almost sixty years since that statement was first presented, the Anglican Communion has experienced significant change, yet the essential truth of that statement remains. As we continue to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, the temptation to live our lives in isolation, both personally and within the confines of our communities, remains very real. If we are truly called to be both mutually responsible and interdependent, a new vision of ministry needs to be identified. 

Through the heaviest days of the COVID-19 pandemic the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, provided a wonderful ministry as he used social media to connect the worldwide Anglican Communion. From the Gardens of Canterbury Cathedral, the Dean offered morning prayer readings and a reflection which gathered a global audience. His devotion attracted the attention of those outside the Communion who were drawn by his faithful and sincere witness. 

Walking through the front doors of our church buildings offers us the opportunity to be nurtured and fed by Word and Sacrament when we gather for worship with others as a community. We are empowered to go out into God’s world and discover how we are being called to offer ministry through our words and actions. It is important for us to take the words of our shared worship and turn them into reality as we live through each day. 

“May we, who share his body, live his risen life; we, who drink his cup, bring life to others; we, whom the Spirit lights, give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, so that we and all your children shall be free, and the whole earth live to praise your name.” (BAS pg. 214 ) 

It seems to me that in whatever changing landscape we find ourselves, we find comfort in knowing that the Lord’s song of faithful witness is ours to sing no matter where we are. 

  • Christopher Pratt

    The Reverend Canon Christopher Pratt is the Interim Priest in Charge of St George’s, Guelph and may be reached through the Church Office or at [email protected]

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