[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Both houses of General Convention on July 12 adopted a resolution that allows all congregations in the Episcopal Church to use optional, expansive-language versions of three Rite II Eucharistic prayers in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
Resolution D078 provides alternative language for Prayer A, Prayer B and Prayer D. The changes are available for trial use until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer.
Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.
Prayer book revision has been the subject of great debate during this convention, which eventually agreed to the creation of new liturgical texts to respond to the needs of Episcopalians across the church while continuing to use the 1979 book. No specific date was set to begin such a comprehensive revision.
Deputies overwhelmingly adopted the resolution on a vote by orders, which is required to authorize liturgies for trial use. The results were:
Clergy: 78 yes, 19 no, 12 divided
Lay: 89 yes, 14 no, 6 divided
Fifty-five votes in each order were required for passage. Divided votes are recorded when the clergy or lay members of a deputation split their votes between yes and no.
After passage, the resolution quickly was sent to the House of Bishops, which passed it on a voice vote after little debate.
The Rev. Laurie Brock, deputy from Lexington, proposed D078. Official endorsers were the Rev. Beth Scriven of Missouri and the Rev. Scott Gunn of Southern Ohio.
Brock told the deputies that the larger plan for liturgical and prayer book revision doesn’t change the fact that every Sunday worshippers hear the words in the current prayer book that are “mostly masculine.” She said that offering the revised versions of existing Eucharistic prayers is “an immediate way to take the longing we have heard in this convention back to our pews, so God can be celebrated in all genders.”
In a more practical vein, she said the resolution “recognizes the reality that many of us are doing this on Sundays and would like to not get hauled up on Title IV for doing it,” referring to the canons for clergy discipline.
Here are some examples of the optional language included in the trial-use rites:
- Priests may begin any of the three rites by saying, “Blessed be God: most holy, glorious and undivided Trinity.” The current opening acclamation of “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit” is also an option. In either case, the people’s response is “And blessed be God’s reign, now and for ever. Amen.”
- At the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving in all three rites, the priest may say, “God be with you,” instead of “The Lord be with you.”
- The Sanctus can now be said using “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” in addition to “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
- In Eucharistic Prayer A, celebrants now have the option of saying, “…you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all.” In the original version, that sentence ends with “…the God and Father of all.”
- Eucharistic Prayer B contains an optional wording for the sentence “Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The option reads, “Unite us in the sacrifice of Christ, through whom we are made acceptable to you, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
- Eucharistic Prayer D offers the option of adding the word “matriarchs” after “patriarchs” in this sentence: “And grant that we may find our inheritance with [the Blessed Virgin Mary, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, (with ____) and all the saints who have found favor with you in ages past.”
The options offered in D078 are to be provided to the church at no cost via electronic distribution, the resolution says.
The resolution asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, or SCLM, to consider revising Eucharistic Prayer C, sometimes called the “Star Wars” prayer for its reference to “the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.”
The SCLM is told to both monitor the use of the expansive-language rites and begin a dynamic-equivalence translation of the rites into Spanish, French and Haitian Creole languages.
D078 asks for $12,500 for the work involved. The 2019-2021 budget has already been passed, so that the portion of the resolution becomes what is known as an unfunded mandate and is left to Executive Council to determine a funding source.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter. Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas and is a member of the ENS General Convention reporting team.