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

July 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 and they will submit them 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 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.