WHAT IS ALIGN?
ALIGN stands for Anglicans and Lutherans in God’s Neighbourhoods.
Together, the MNO synod and the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land, under coaching from Dr. Alan J. Roxburgh of The Missional Network, are trying a new experiment.
ALIGN is a “missional” experiment, in the sense that our desire to experiment together is rooted in the deep conviction that God is already at work outside our church walls and in the neighbourhoods of our world. Another conviction is that there is a hunger out there to connect- and that this is the work of the Spirit.
It began with a vision: What if we invited Lutheran and Anglican people living together in specific neighbourhoods to come together and go on a journey together of asking “What is God up to in our neighbourhood?” And then, what if, in asking that question, we together tried out some practices and some ways of joining in what God was doing and we learned something from it?
This really is a new concept: our people, Lutheran and Anglican, meeting together in their neighbourhoods. This is not meant to take anything away from congregational ministries- this is meant to be a life-giving learning opportunity for those who feel drawn to take a closer look and join in where God is active in their neighbourhoods.
The ALIGN leadership team will be watching and listening. In the future, congregations, clergy, even the leadership of the synod will have the chance to reflect and learn something through the listening that’s happening. The goal is that in doing things together in our communities and reflecting, everyone- members of neighbourhoods, congregations, clergy and bishops- will have the opportunity to learn something about how God is at work around us!
UPDATE ON ALIGN (April 2017)
ALIGN was introduced at an information meeting in Winnipeg back in September. In the months since then, we identified four neighbourhoods where we would begin the experiment and have collected groups of people to participate in three neighbourhoods in Winnipeg as well as the St. Andrews/Selkirk area of Manitoba. Each neighbourhood group includes people who identify as Lutheran and Anglican as well as ordained and lay people.
The four ALIGN teams have begun the experiment by meeting together in public spaces in their respective neighbourhoods. By meeting in neighbourhood places, these ALIGN teams are connecting and sharing with their neighbours, who are often curious about what is involved.
Groups have begun the practice of Listening by Dwelling in the Word by reflecting on Luke 10:1-12 as a way of listening to God. The other part of Listening involves listening to their neighbourhoods by listening to each other’s stories of their experiences in their neighbourhoods, and learning how to listen to those who are different than themselves in their neighbourhood. The goal is a greater communion with God, each other, and our neighbourhoods.
On March 9, members of all ALIGN teams came together for a joint event in St. Andrew’s, Manitoba. At this event, each team was introduced to the other neighbourhoods and was encouraged to continue attending to listening in their neighbourhoods and sharing the stories that are emerging. Over the next few months, each neighbourhood group will continue to connect, engage, and listen in their neighbourhoods and share the stories of the connections that are emerging.
Over the next year, each of the four teams will continue to meet monthly to continue to engage in Listening (through Dwelling in God’s Word) Discerning, Experimenting and Evaluating and Deciding.
Overall, the process has gone a little bit slower than we anticipated but we are encouraged to keep at it.
If you would like further details, feel free to contact a member of the ALIGN Oversight Team: Simon Blaikie, Larry Ulrich, or Melinda Pearce – firstname.lastname@example.org