Committee will propose comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jul 5, 2018

Members of the Committee to Receive the Report of Resolution A169, which is considering revision of the Book of Common Prayer, clap along while singing a hymn before the start of their morning meeting on July 5. Photo: Melodie Woerman/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The Committee to Receive the Report of Resolution A169, which is considering resolutions to revise of the Book of Common Prayer, voted on July 5 to propose to General Convention a plan for comprehensive revision of the current 1979 prayer book. The resolution, which will be an amendment to Resolution A068, authorizes the start of a revision process that could culminate in a new prayer book in 2030.

The resolution was developed by a subcommittee appointed on July 4 to incorporate the process of revision specified in Resolution A068, as well as calls for inclusive and expansive language for God and human beings, which were presented during hearings, also on July 4.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

The proposal calls for the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to begin the revision process using the 1979 prayer book as the starting point and to utilize “inclusive and expansive language and imagery for humanity and divinity” in making changes. It also will “incorporate and express understanding, appreciation and care for God’s creation.”

Exempted from the inclusive language revision will be Holy Eucharist Rite 1 and the church’s historical documents printed in the prayer book. In a split between the deputies and bishops who meet together but vote separately, exempting the Lord’s Prayer from revision was adopted by the bishops but rejected by the deputies.

That means that the deputies’ version will be presented to the House of Deputies when the matter is taken up in a special order of business on July 6 at 4 p.m. If adopted there with that clause intact, the bishops’ version will be debated in the House of Bishops. Reconciliation then would be needed between the two versions.

This resolution carries through the background materials associated with the original A068, which describe a 12-year process of prayer book revision. This includes a comprehensive survey of the liturgies in use in congregations, consultation with other provinces of the Anglican Communion, drafting committees and an overall editor. The plan is to gather data over the next three years, with a complete revision by 2024.

That proposed book would undergo three years of trial use throughout the Episcopal Church, with a first vote by General Convention in 2027. Because revision of the prayer book is part of the church’s Constitution, adoption of a new book requires votes in two consecutive General Conventions to take effect, placing final approval on the agenda in 2030.

– Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas and is a member of the ENS General Convention reporting team.


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Comments (52)

  1. Mike Grigsby-Lane says:

    Unnecessary, a total waste of time and resources. Seek deeper engagement with the current BCP.

  2. Jim Shoemaker says:

    This is very troubling. We have lost 1/3 of our membership since the last prayer book revision. Attendance is down and continuing to fall. We need to be focused on the current liturgy and trying to broaden our appeal. I don’t think this is the way to do it.

  3. Mark Bigley says:

    So the Historical Documentments are no longer important enough to be in the BCP? I wonder why? No (good) reason was given. Niebuhr was right. Church follows culture. Such a pattern of erasing history or revising it seems to be the mainstream. History reveals other times, places and purposes when history was erased or revised. I wonder what the real reasons are this time? It’s obvious to me. Anyone else?

  4. Jeanette Green says:

    Not a good idea at all. Unless you are looking to have people leave the church. I am already wavering with returning to the Catholic church.

Comments are closed.