Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 29, 1999
Local Christians ready to welcome millennium
First Night, J2K festival among events planned
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Edmonton Christians are planning to welcome in the new millennium with an unprecedented display of unity, reverence and colour.
Lectures, prayer services, candlelight processions, programs of music, dance and drama are just some of the activities being organized by the ecumenical Edmonton Jubilee 2000 Committee to ring in the new millennium.
The celebrations will continue throughout the year 2000 with a J2K (Jesus 2000) ecumenical festival on Pentecost and a major Catholic assembly in September.
"This is a significant anniversary date which gives us an opportunity to celebrate two millennia and to look forward to what we need to do and work at as a Christian Church as we begin the third millennium," said Greg Kerr-Wilson, dean of All Saints Anglican Cathedral.
"To celebrate 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ is really a significant moment in our lifetime," notes Cathy Harvey, chair of the Edmonton Jubilee 2000 Committee.
"How often do we get to celebrate an anniversary as significant as that which touches the core of our faith. And to be able to proclaim that, to be able to say to one another, 'This is important to us, this is a significant time to us?'"
Preparations for the jubilee celebration began several years ago when Christian churches gathered to discern how they could celebrate their common faith and their common heritage. In 1998 they created the Jubilee 2000 Committee and agreed on four main venues of celebration.
The group's first initiative was to join with the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative and Jubilee 2000 International to seek cancellation of the international debt of the 50 poorest countries in the world.
The committee's second venue of celebration is First Night, an activity in which the jubilee committee is working hand in hand with City Festival to welcome the new millennium from a faith perspective.
The First Night celebration includes a multi-faith focus on the millennium at McDougall United Church and a celebration of 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus at All Saints Anglican Cathedral.
Both venues will feature programs of music, dance and drama throughout the evening concluding with a prayer service. Both prayer services will join for a candlelight procession into Sir Winston Churchill Square for the finale.
Celebrations will continue well beyond First Night for as Harvey put it, "The jubilee year isn't a one shot deal where you celebrate it and then everything goes back to normal."
The program also includes a lecture series on jubilee themes that began in October and are held monthly at a Christian college. The series concludes April 4 with the lecture Jubilee: A Way of Life. The purpose of the series, prepared in cooperation with various local Christian colleges, is to deepen people's understanding of the biblical concept of jubilee.
"Hopefully the impact of all that we do will renew us, will change our lives and we will have a new beginning," said Harvey. "The jubilee will not have been celebrated fully if we aren't to change through it and by it."
The Jubilee Committee's main celebration for the year 2000 will be the J2K Festival on Pentecost Sunday, June 11, at Churchill Square and City Hall.
The festival, the first of its kind in Edmonton, will celebrate 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ and will focus on themes of hope, thanksgiving and renewal expressed through music, drama, dance and a variety of games and activities.
"Perhaps from here on we may continue to have Christian Festivals after this jubilee year," Harvey said.
Three months after the J2K Festival, the Edmonton Archdiocese will celebrate the jubilee year with an Assembly 2000 at the Shaw Conference Centre.
The Sept. 14-17 assembly will feature high-calibre speakers such as retired Archbishop John Quinn of St. Francisco, educator Thomas Groome of Boston, Sister Eileen Schuller, Father Thomas Rausch and Edmonton Archbishop Thomas Collins.
There will also be Bible camps for children and youth, liturgy workshops, ecumenical workshops, and workshops on the future of the parish and funeral planning.
Parishes will welcome in the new millennium in a variety of ways, from helping the poor to holding religious services and parties on New Year's Eve. Many will have the symbolic jubilee door-opening ceremony beginning in Advent.
The Jubilee 2000 Committee is also suggesting individual Christians celebrate by placing a candle in their window as a sign of hope and thanksgiving for 2,000 years since the birth of Christ.
It is also calling on Christians to reclaim Sunday as the Lord's Day by ringing their church's bells every Sunday throughout the Jubilee Year 2000. People can also celebrate by doing jubilee gardens - a colourful arrangement of flowers - in their yards, city parks and even flower pots.
"I believe that this will be a very special time and a moment when the Lord will bless us and pour out his grace," observed Harvey.
"And I believe that this will be a special year spiritually for us as well - that our simple efforts will be blessed and will be allowed to come to fruition because we are honouring the Lord."