Community building at its best

The Ven. PJ Hobbs (L) and the Rev. Joel Crouse (R) lead a community building exercise the first day of Joint Assembly. Photo by Art Babych/Anglican Journal

The Ven. PJ Hobbs (L) and the Rev. Joel Crouse (R) lead a community building exercise the first day of Joint Assembly. Photo by Art Babych/Anglican Journal


In a session appropriately named “Community Building,” the Ven. PJ Hobbs, Archdeacon of Carleton and Director of Mission: Parish, Diocesan & Community Ministries in the Diocese of Ottawa, and Rev. Joel Crouse, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in the Eastern Synod and Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Ottawa, took delegates to the 2013 Joint Assembly through a fun and spirited look at full communion between the Anglican and Lutheran churches in the years since the signing of the Waterloo Declaration.

In a humorous look at the collegial relationship between the leaders of the two churches, Hobbs and Crouse parodied greeting outtakes of the joint Easter and Christmas messages that Anglicans and Lutherans have become familiar with over the past few years. Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada could be seen laughing uncontrollably at the well-intended and good-natured jabs.

Hobbs and Crouse also introduced delegates to the “clicker” technology that will be used throughout Joint Assembly and in the separate General Synod and National Convention business sessions.

The 2013 Joint Assembly marks the first time at either of the national Lutheran or Anglican gatherings that clicker technology will be incorporated into the proceedings. The clickers allow for election results to be recorded faster and with greater accuracy.

In a gesture of good humour and to demonstrate the technology, delegates were tested on their knowledge of history, including questions such as:  Who is your favourite reformer? a) Martin Luther, b) Thomas Cranmer, or c) Preston Manning.


Hobbs and Crouse also reflected on the road to full communion and specifically the role leadership has played in living out this work more fully over the last twelve years.

Crouse spoke of the famous dance between Lutheran National Bishop Telmor Sartison and Anglican Archbishop Michael Peers which took place following the signing of the Waterloo Declaration in 2001. “In many ways the dance continues,” said Crouse – referring to the how Bishop Johnson and Primate Hiltz continue to live out full communion.

As part of the community building approach to the presentation, each table at the Joint Assembly – a mixture of Anglicans and Lutherans – was asked to undertake an exercise in craftsmanship.  Tables were provided with a bag of craft materials which they had to use cooperatively to construct a sculpture symbolic of what full communion meant to them.

It didn’t take long before initial confusion gave way to common purpose, partnership, cooperation, and a great deal of laughter, with Lutherans holding scotch tape for Anglicans and Anglicans folding paper for Lutherans. The tables systematically completed their task of building a structure; their steps representing the steps in the shared path to full communion and the ability for Lutherans and Anglicans to work together in common purpose to do what God asks us to do: to take a risk, to meet our neighbours, and to work joyfully together for the love of the world.

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