It was something most had not experienced before, nor would they have such an opportunity again. They described it as breath taking, awe inspiring, spiritually moving and the list of superlatives went on. It was the 150th anniversary celebration of the Diocese of Huron, Anglican Church of Canada, which crowded a mere 9100 people inside the John Labatt Centre, known mostly as home to hockey's London Knights.
The October 28th event was the largest indoor church service in the history of the city of London, Ontario. They came by the bus load, they came by the car load, they came on bikes, trikes, strollers and their own two feet, each finding a spot to witness a celebration of 150 years to the day that the Rt Revd Benjamin Cronyn was consecrated at Lambeth Palace becoming the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Huron, located in the south-western portion of the Province of Ontario. Some 60 descendants of Bishop Cronyn attended the service and brought with them a chalice used by Cronyn himself in his ministry, a welcomed donation received by the Rt. Rev. Bruce Howe, current Bishop of Huron.
The service began with elements of Aboriginal culture, a smudging ceremony and native drumming and dancing. And then the glorious procession! Some 160 clergy from around the diocese and ecumenical guests, followed by the entire Canadian House of Bishops, the Bishop of Huron's companion Diocese in South Africa and six bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, which enjoys a full communion relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada. A 350 voice choir lead the most enthusiastic singing and the new Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz challenged the gathering with a stirring homily based on the theme, "Light and Life" which has run through all of Huron's Sesquicentennial celebrations. The celebration concluded with a lively rendition of "We Are Marching", which might have been more aptly described as, "We are dancing" as all in attendance seemed to find their feet moving to the rythm.
Huron's 150th has been marked by a variety of events; from New Year's levies, to a DVD production of the story of Cronyn's early ministry, to a commissioned painting of the moment of Cronyn's election, to a pilgramage of the Sesquicentennial Cross throughout the Diocese. The pinnacle Eucharistic celebration drew front page coverage in local media and rave reviews from all involved in the event. Anglicans it seems just aren't used to going to church with more than 9000 of their closest friends. It's a special event that we in Huron would highly recommend.
Article by: Revd Canon Christopher Pratt, Co-Chair of the Sesquicentennial Committee of the Diocese of Huron, Anglican Church of Canada