The Rev. Matthew Lawrence is not trying to revolutionize the Episcopal church; he's carrying on a tradition that began more than 30 years ago.
Canterbury House, the University's center for the Episcopal Church, has been sponsoring musical events since the '60s. The plan originated with the Rev. Dan Burke and a quaint little coffeehouse on Maynard Street, where the restaurant Shahrayar now stands. Burke's idea was to bring together the popular art form of jazz and the Mass. In its heyday, Canterbury House sponsored artists such as Neil Young, Buddy Guy and Joni Mitchell, as well as Janis Joplin's performance at Crisler Arena.
The coffeehouse shut down in 1970, due to a lack of funding and administrative problems. In 1995, however, Canterbury House relocated to its present location at 721 E. Huron, where Lawrence is beginning to revive the traditions that his predecessors founded. The Jazz Mass is an event that draws in many members of the community, involving a good deal of student participation in the service. Prof. Stephen Rush and his band Quartex bring a new flair to old church hymns; Lawrence is hoping that the Jazz Mass approach will bring new life and vigor to the campus Episcopalian community.
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