They’re coming; they’re coming! The students are coming! For us here at Hillsdale, this is the weekend the students arrive. It’s been a busy week of RA training, meetings and dorm decorating. For me, it’s also been an interesting week of getting used to a team of male RA’s now that my dorm is going to house young men after 29 years of being home for young women (although I’ve only been here 13 years).
Ahhhh, change. Some of us handle change better than others which was definitely evident at General Convention during discussions of potential prayer book revision. Our Book of Common Prayer is rooted deeply in our lives so, for some, the thought of any change creates anxiety about how this will affect their practice and faith. Many of these individuals have memories of the last revision and the resulting conflict within churches that led some to leave their congregations. For others, leaving the BCP as it is seems unwelcoming and restrictive. And we know that there are some beautiful new forms of worship that could be a welcome addition to what we are currently using. All of these concerns – and many more – were voiced at General Convention.
Committee 13, the Committee to Receive the Report of Resolution A169 from the 2015 General Convention, certainly had its work cut out for it and we are grateful for their hard work. You can find the list of resolutions they considered on this page from the General Convention website. As a reminder, here’s the resolution that gave birth to this discussion –
Resolution Number: 2015-A169
Title: Prepare a Plan for Revising the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
Legislative Action Taken: Concurred
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the current Book of Common Prayer and present that plan to the 79th General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That such a plan for revision utilize the riches of our Church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender and ethnic diversity in order to share common worship; and be it further
Resolved, That the plan for revision take into consideration the use of current technologies which provide access to a broad range of liturgical resources; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $30,000 for the implementation of this resolution.
Citation: General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of…The Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City, 2015 (New York: General Convention, 2015), pp. 886-887
The resolution that Committee 13 addressed that elicited the longest and, perhaps, most personal discussion was A068. Here is the wording of the resolution after both houses concurred:
A068 Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention, pursuant to Article X of the Constitution, authorize the ongoing work of liturgical and Prayer Book revision for the future of God’s mission through the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. And, that it do so upon the core theological work of loving, liberating, life-giving reconciliation and creation care; and be it further
Resolved, that our methodology be one of a dynamic process for discerning common worship, engaging all the baptized, while practicing accountability to The Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention create a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPBR), the membership of which will be jointly appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, and will report to the appropriate legislative committee(s) of the 80th General Convention, ensuring that diverse voices of our church are active participants in this liturgical revision by constituting a group with leaders who represent the expertise, gender, age, theology, regional, and ethnic diversity of the church, to include, 10 laity, 10 priests or deacons, and 10 Bishops; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention memorialize the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian Formularies ensuring its continued use; and be it further
Resolved, That this church continue to engage the deep Baptismal and Eucharistic theology and practice of the 1979 Prayer Book; and be it further
Resolved, That bishops engage worshiping communities in experimentation and the creation of alternative texts to offer to the wider church, and that each diocese be urged to create a liturgical commission to collect, reflect, teach and share these resources with the TFLPBR; and be it further
Resolved, That the TFLPBR in consultation with the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons is directed to propose to the 80th General Convention revisions to the Constitution and Canons to enable The Episcopal Church to be adaptive in its engagement of future generations of Episcopalians, multiplying, connecting, and disseminating new liturgies for mission, attending to prayer book revision in other provinces of the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That liturgical and Prayer Book revision will continue in faithful adherence to the historic rites of the Church Universal as they have been received and interpreted within the Anglican tradition of 1979 Book of Common Prayer, mindful of our existing ecumenical commitments, while also providing space for, encouraging the submission of, and facilitating the perfection of rites that will arise from the continual movement of the Holy Spirit among us and growing insights of our Church; and be it further
Resolved, That such revision utilize the riches of Holy Scripture and our Church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender, physical ability, class and ethnic diversity in order to share common worship; and be it further
Resolved, That our liturgical revision utilize inclusive and expansive language and imagery for humanity and divinity; and be it further
Resolved, That our liturgical revision shall incorporate and express understanding, appreciation, and care of God’s creation; and be it further
Resolved, That our liturgical revision take into consideration the use of emerging technologies which provide access to a broad range of liturgical resources; and be it further
Resolved, That the SCLM create a professional dynamic equivalence translation of The Book of Common Prayer 1979 and the Enriching Our Worship Series in Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole; and that the SCLM diversify the publication formats of new resources, liturgies and rites to include online publishing; and be it further
Resolved, That this church ensure that, at each step of the revision process, all materials be professionally translated into English, Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole, following the principles of dynamic equivalence and that no new rites or liturgical resources be approved by this church until such translations are secured; and be it further
Resolved, That the TFLPBR shall report to the 80th General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That there being $201,000 in the proposed budget for the translation of liturgical materials, that the Executive Council be encouraged to identify additional funds in the amount of $200,000 to begin this liturgical revision.
You can see that in many ways, this puts a complete revision on hold yet will begin to allow for some changes in practice that will answer some of the concerns expressed in our discussions.
Another resolution that will directly impact our worshiping communities soon is Resolution D078: Authorize Holy Eucharist, Rite II (Expansive Language) for Trial Use. Here are the resolves for this resolution which, in its final form, are then followed by the wording of Eucharistic Prayers A, B and D. I have omitted the lengthy text and rather included a link for it formatted similar to the BCP:
D078 Authorize Holy Eucharist, Rite II (Expansive Language) for Trial Use
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention authorize The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) for trial use throughout this church as a proposed revision within pages 355-382 of the Book of Common Prayer pursuant to Article X(b) of the Constitution; and be it further
Resolved, That the period of trial use for these liturgies shall extend until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further
Resolved, That The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, Eucharistic Prayer C, be referred to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for possible revision for trial use; and be it further
Resolved, That The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) be provided to the church at no cost via electronic distribution; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music be directed to engage a dynamic equivalence translation of The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) into the Spanish, French, and Hatian Creole languages; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $12,500 for the implementation of this resolution; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music be directed to develop a process for evaluation of the ongoing use of The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) among the dioceses and congregations of this church.
Change can make us nervous because it rocks our security yet, as we all know, change is part of living and a part of growth. As the Rev. Deon Johnson once said in a meeting I attended: “If we don’t like change, will we like irrelevance better?” Changes that invite and welcome others to experience the love of God because we have removed boundaries and opened doors will bring new life to our beloved Church. This is what we all desire for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.
Let us pray –
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council