[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] It was a long and winding road, but the 79th General Convention has committed to revising “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” and the entire sanctoral calendar with the adoption of resolution A065.
The journey began in the Standing Commission on Liturgy in Music. The 2015 General Convention sent the SCLM 11 resolutions related to the church’s various lists of saints that it has chosen to remember and honor. Those resolutions, along with feedback from the church, led the committee to decide that it ought to prepare a new edition of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts,” which would better reflect the diversity of the church and could work in conjunction with “A Great Cloud of Witnesses,” which the 2015 General Convention voted to “make available” but did not authorize.
Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.
(“Lesser Feasts and Fasts” is a collection of proper collects, lessons and psalms for the Eucharist on each of the weekdays of Lent, each of the weekdays of the Easter season, and each of the lesser feasts of the church year. It is used in addition to the major feasts and saints included in the Book of Common Prayer.)
The Blue Book Report filed by the SCLM contains the recommended revisions to “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” to make the calendar of commemorations less confusing and more diverse. It is 650 pages long.
The resolution resulting from the report, A065, worked its way through the legislative process of General Convention from the first (unofficial) day of convention, July 4, to the last, July 13. There were a few detours along the way.
Hearings in the Committee for Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, chaired by Atlanta Bishop J. Neil Alexander for the House of Bishops and the Rev. Susan Anslow Williams of Michigan for the House of Deputies, were held the morning of July 4. People testified, mostly about adding or deleting a particular person or requesting that a person be moved from one resource to another. Learn more here.
A legislative subcommittee working solely on revisions to “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018” substituted new language in the resolution to combine the proposed “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018,” “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” (2015) and “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006” into one calendar for use during the 2018-2021 triennium.
But a move in the House of Deputies to revert to the SCLM version of A065 brought debate to a halt until July 12.
The Rev. Jack Zamboni, deputy from New Jersey, and a member of the legislative committee, spoke against the amendment. “One of the challenges for the committee, they also included a secondary calendar within that book that left us with tiers A and B, and it was the sense of the committee to get rid of tiers.”
The Rev. Scott Gunn, deputy from Southern Ohio, spoke in favor of the amendment. He asked for the house to accept the Blue Book report of SCLM [as the resolution]. “During this 2018 Lent Madness summit to choose the saints, [they] spent a lot of time with the calendar. These are worthy saints, a balanced calendar, not a perfect calendar, but that this why we have an ongoing revision process,” he said.
In the end, the House of Deputies agreed to go back to the SCLM’s recommended text, and both houses approved the resolution near the end of convention on the morning of July 13.
Moving into the next triennium, “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006” is still in use; “Great Cloud of Witnesses 2015” is also still available for use; and the new commemorations in “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018” are authorized for trial use. The SCLM was told to provide “the 80th General Convention with a clear and unambiguous plan for a singular calendar of ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts.’”
— Sharon Tillman is a freelance writer for Episcopal News Service.