Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Church 'loosens bolts' on ancient tradition

  • Print
Here are three words you don't usually see in the same sentence: "new" and "Anglican Church."

It sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not. Not in Winnipeg, at least, which is home to a new Anglican church called Saint Benedict's Table.

The church, which meets Sunday evenings at All Saints Anglican Church, wants to create a worship and community experience for people who value traditional liturgy, yet want it to be relevant for the world today.

The idea for the church originated with about a dozen people who "wanted to do something new, but something traditional at the same time," says pastor Jamie Howison. "We wanted to loosen the bolts on the ancient Anglican tradition and give it new flexibility and play."

The result is a church of about 100 people of all ages who are committed to "good music and strong coffee, among other things," as it says on their website.

Services feature the traditional Anglican liturgy -- communion and a sermon, accompanied by a hybrid of roots-based music, and occasionally some jazz.

The church takes its name from Saint Benedict, who lived from 480 to 543.

"He was a key figure who developed a community at a very chaotic time," says Howison, adding "he developed a way of living that drew in all of life -- work, worship and play."

At the same time, he says, Benedict also "kept alive the worship traditions while developing new ones."

As for the "Table" part of the name, Howison says that's because "our life is formed around the communion table, and nurtured over various tables of hospitality and conversation."

This includes having coffee after the service, book discussions and something called Theology by the Glass -- a time for people to meet at a local restaurant for beer and conversation about current topics. They also meet once a month at Aqua Books for The Idea Exchange, a series about faith, life, theology and pop culture.

The church is "a biblical community in which scripture is prayed and digested," but it is also "a community of rational inquiry, a zone in which truth is sought and heard, and in which dissent and dialogue are embraced as part of the process of discernment," he says.

While building the community through these kinds of meetings is important, Howison says that worship is the most important aspect of the church's life.

"I feel that everything begins and ends in worship, and flows from it," he says, adding that "there is a hunger today for worship that embraces sign and symbol, art and image, space and silence, awe and mystery."

That was certainly true in his own life. Howison was raised in an evangelical church, but found himself drawn to the Roman Catholic and Anglican worship traditions while in university. "I found the liturgical and sacramental experience of worship very appealing," he says.

He isn't the only one. Although evangelical mega-churches, with their high-energy praise and worship styles, get a lot of attention for their fantastic growth, there is a small but steady stream of people headed in another direction, toward churches that feature traditional liturgical worship.

At Saint Benedict's Table, for example, only about 20 per cent of the congregation is Anglican; some of the group's strongest supporters used to attend local evangelical churches.

One person who has found the worship at Saint Benedict's Table to his liking is singer and songwriter Steve Bell.

"It is a gentle and lovely service," says the former Baptist church member. "Not unchallenging, but even the challenges that are put forward as scripture is read, or in the homily or prayers, have the stamp of rest and trust on them."

Bell likens the worship to "a warm evening bath, as compared to a brisk morning shower."

Saint Benedict's Table fits the mould of what Robert Webber, an evangelical who teaches at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, calls "ancient-future worship," whereby churches "return to the ancient faith, to study the ministries of the early church and apply them to our current culture."

A great many people today "are reacting against the loud music and hype often associated with contemporary worship," he says, adding that what they want is "ancient liturgy with a contemporary flair. They want mystery, transcendence, quiet, prayer with the laying on of hands, pageantry, participation, stability, tradition, and authentic embodiment."

Bishop Donald Phillips of the Diocese of Rupert's Land says Saint Benedict's Table is "an inspired idea" for people who may not "feel that they fit a conventional church."

He hopes it becomes a model "that pushes and prods other churches in the diocese... it is breathing new life into the historic forms of worship and "packaging it in modern ways."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 8, 2006 $sourceSection$sourcePage

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Spring fashion trends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google