Deputies agree with bishops on new plan for liturgical and prayer book revision

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jul 11, 2018

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] In an overwhelming voice vote, the House of Deputies on July 11 concurred with a plan for liturgical and prayer book revision that had been adopted by the House of Bishops the day before.

This sets the stage for creation of new liturgical texts to respond to the needs of Episcopalians across the church while continuing to use the Book of Common Prayer that was adopted in 1979.

Resolution A068 originally called for the start of a process that would lead to a fully revised prayer book in 2030. The bishops instead adopted a plan for “liturgical and prayer book revision for the future of God’s mission through the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.”

The bishops’ amended resolution calls for bishops to engage worshipping communities in their dioceses in experimentation and creation of alternative liturgical texts that they will submit to a new Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision to be appointed by the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.

It also says that liturgical revision will utilize inclusive and expansive language and imagery for humanity and divinity, and will incorporate understanding, appreciation and care of God’s creation.

The Very Rev. Sam Candler, deputy from Atlanta and one of the chairs of the committee that considered the original version of A068, asked the House of Deputies to concur with the action of the House of Bishops. He acknowledged that doing so would not give deputies everything they had wanted when they had voted on July 7 for expanded prayer book revision in the original A068.

Candler said that deputies were proud to have sent a “strong and vigorous resolution on revision of the Book of Common Prayer” to the House of Bishops and that they “heard us and responded with a process for prayer book and liturgical revision.” Concurring with the bishops would “move the process forward,” he said. “The church is always reforming,” he added. “Our prayer is always reforming. We are excited to be part of that.”

One line in the bishop’s proposal prompted questions in the House of Deputies. The resolution “memorializes” the 1979 Book of Common Prayer “as a prayer book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, the Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and [its] Trinitarian Formularies.”

Deputies asked what was meant by the word memorialize. Candler said the word didn’t appear in the rules of General Convention or the House of Deputies, so he was relying on a dictionary definition that means “to commemorate.” He added, “I trust it is a word that commemorates what the Book of Common Prayer is.”

– 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 (14)

  1. David Schreyer says:

    Impressed with the way this ended. I was really certain this was going to be the beginning of the end for TEC. I can go to my grave at least (for now anyway) knowing that the BCP will be treated with more respect that what appeared to be happening within the House of Deputies on July 7.

    1. Christine H Harwood says:

      I’m not sure about that. You have more hope than I. Memorials are for things dead and gone. Sounds like they’re just going to add more and more new stuff until everyone forgets the original. Even if that wasn’t the intention, it seems the likely result. Every diocese can invent new stuff, which 815 will approve–gotta be inclusive and open-minded with that liberation theology. Soon it won’t be breaking the rules to have “U2charists, Piratecharists, Beycharists,” etc. Use whatever 3 words you like instead of the Trinity. Funny how Episcopalians deride community churches, Baptists, etc. for just teaching whatever the pastor wants. This will give them the chance to do the same. If there are 25 different approved forms for every season, is the church really having “Common Prayer”?

      Next up, approving Communion Without Baptism, which most do anyway, so it will just be admitting what’s already happening.

      1. Jewels Wolf says:

        When the Holy Trinity is named as anything other than the Father, Son and Holy Spirit I will be gone. When the Creed is left out or altered in anyway I will be gone. When the Lord’s Prayer does not begin with “Our Father…” I will be gone. There are some things I see that could be revised without destroying the meaning of the Liturgy, the above are not among them. When I cry to God I cry out Abba Father! My heart cries for the church today because I see in it the sun going down, and you can take that in any form you like.

    2. James Graham says:

      Read carefully David–there’s more between the lines…

      1. David Schreyer says:

        Oh I am sure there is. However, if the majority of Episcopalians are against this plan they need to apply large amounts of pressure on their Bishop(s) of their Diocese. I know where I am located in the midwest it will be a hard sell. There is already talk of withholding their pledges for the coming year or reducing by the percentage of how much it will cost using the TEC’s entrie annual budget. It’s going to hurt. And I am sure members are going to be leaving for other churches. By the time 2030 rolls around I’ll be in my 70’s. I don’t care anymore.

        1. Donald Caron says:

          As I read the report I don’t expect a new Prayer Book in 2020. I do expect additions to authorized texts perhaps in the form of Enriching Our Worship. The inclusive language issue can be addressed as can circumstances in the life of people that call for a recognition by the church. Up until now clergy have had to improvise when these circumstances arise. The process I see outlined here will build on the best ideas and practices to make them available to all.

          1. Doug Desper says:

            I’m OK with expanding Enriching Our Worship so long as the ’79 BCP isn’t altered. Aren’t we a big enough tent to let churches decide on some of their own worship? So long as they cannot jettison the current BCP and the EOW additions are approved I say let progressives do their thing and leave others (probably more people than they would know) do their thing with the current Prayer Book.

  2. Bruce Michael Johnson says:

    Many of us lived through the revision of the 1928 BCP during the 1960’s and 70’s. It was a painful period for many Episcopalians. Yet, the 1979 BCP produced a Book of Common Prayer that was much more inclusive than what we had before. I believe that we need to work on and improve on the successes of the 1979 BCP. The inclusion of same sex liturgy should be a part such a revision but we should also be careful of a completely gender neutral BCP. PEACE TO ALL MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

    1. Just because ’79 was inclusive doesn’t mean it was good. It ignored the wishes of traditionalist. Yes, Rite one is “sort of” like ’28. Close, but no cigar. Many unnecessary changes were made to text, saying exactly what had been said in ’28, but differently. I’m not a fan of change for the sake of change. If it does not serve a positive purpose, leave it alone! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Besides, many liturgies are in Rite Two only. Not fair! CoE had the right idea: Here’s the new, but you can still use the old if you like.

  3. Lou Schoen says:

    I don’t understand the negatives, even cynicism, that I’ve seen in comments on liturgical change. Now, you can be sure that same old 1979 BCP will be in your pew. But the many of us who have been hoping for and encouraging more open and inclusive liturgies have something to look forward to, as well. Instead of worrying about people leaving TEC, we should be excited about its new potential for growth!

    1. Randy Young says:

      Lou, with all Christian love I ask you to look around. TEC is not growing. The more inclusive we try to become, the fewer people are drawn to us. We keep making a bigger tent and end up with fewer people in it. We might ask the “Dr Phil” question,” how’s that going for you” when we assess the directions we’ve taken in the last 40 years. Where are all these people we supposedly have made changes for these past decades to make them feel more welcome?

      I admit I was a progressive way back when (who wasn’t in the 60’s and 70’s lol) , but at some point, you have to do an honest discernment of the results you were intending vs the results you have achieved and make adjustments to your thinking.

      1. Lou Schoen says:

        No, we haven’t been growing, but neither have any of the other mainline denominations. Young people today tend to choose options that offer video (& at least screens for words/photos) and dialogue as well as good preaching – &, of course, many are opting out of institutional religion. For those who remain open to it, it’s vital that contexts rise above patriarchal traditions, and that congregations reach out for greater diversity.

      2. Jewels Wolf says:

        I have often said that being Christian is not a popularity contest. The church does not exist to satisfy the itching ears of its congregations and be blown about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) but to proclaim the Gospel, to preach the word whether it is convenient or not, whether it falls on open ears or closed (2 Timothy 4:2). It is sad to me that these things must be pointed out to people who should know better. The Episcopal Church needs to get back to basics rather than straying farther and farther away from them.

  4. I don’t like the one we have–and never have. Not only do you need a road map, once you get there it is hard to recognize!

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