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The worship in Faith, Worship, and Ministry

Eileen ScullyIn 2010, the General Synod passed a resolution directing the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee to set up a Liturgy Task Force to get working on the revision of our contemporary language (read everything except the BCP) authorized liturgical texts. Using a set of Principles for Liturgical Revisionwhich were adopted by that General Synodthe Liturgy Task Force started its work the next year. The group decided to focus, for the first stage of their work, on main services of Eucharist and Baptism, on Daily Office and Psalmody, and on the Proper Prayers.

I hope that you’ve seen the trial use Collects: first for Advent, and then for Year A Pentecost. These are the first, small, concrete pieces of the LTF’s work to surface publicly. An inclusive language liturgical psalter will soon be available.

Beneath that surface are a lot of conversations, wide ranging and deep. What does the Anglican Church of Canada need, in terms of new and alternatives texts? When so much already exists out there, locally developed or available from other

Provinces and from the ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Worship is authorized for use for us where permitted by the diocesan bishop, remember!), what is the most pressing need? In part, yes, it’s new and revised texts, drawn from other sources or newly created; in part it’s also a lot of good, solid liturgical-theological formation of leaders and planners of worship to make good liturgical choices. Also needed are conversations about why we have ‘authorized’ texts in the first place, and what we mean by ‘common prayer.’

The Introduction to the Book of Alternatives Services contains some very helpful reflections on the perennial nature of liturgical revision. It is always the case that the church needs to be reflecting on its current contextual realities and missional directions, and it is the interplay of these reflections with the active engaged life of corporate worship that leads to new expressions that are, well, new but not-new, fresh, but formatively ancient and grounded, that tap into, express and give fresh voice to God’s call to us in this time and place, and to our response to that call.

Thanks to Matthew Griffin for making space within The Community’s Liturgy blog as a place for me, on behalf of the Liturgy Task Force, to engage a wider conversation about this work. I’m intending to offer occasional reflections that will always be ended with a questionto hear from you, as a way of feeding into the ongoing conversation in and work of the Liturgy Task Force.

So, for starters: What in our present collection of authorized texts for eucharist and baptism is groaning at you for revision? Why is that? What’s lacking and why does it feel to you that there is lack?and remember that other questions are going to follow soon!

Eileen Scully

About Eileen Scully

I’m serving the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada as Director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry and have a passion for how worship and learning form disciples for God’s mission in the world, and how that mission shapes our common prayer.

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14 Responses to The worship in Faith, Worship, and Ministry

  1. Personally, I think that with all the issues we face as a church (declining membership, especially among young people and in rural congregations, being perhaps the biggest example and the elephant that no one wants to talk about), revising liturgical texts should be at the bottom of our list of priorities.

    • Eileen Scully

      Hi Tim. I get what you’re saying. And I’m not suggesting – nor is the system – that this is a higher priority than all that you’re talking about. There are other things going on around getting us serious about making disciples in communities that are engaged in mission. And how we worship when we gather is a huge part of that, and what words and forms we use to express our worship are a part of that. So, it’s not about this being the biggest thing, or even a big thing, but a thing with which it’s important that we – especially those of us who are tuned to trying to engage mission in real and concrete ways – participate. So… Bring it on…

  2. I think our liturgy is central to all of the issues confronting the church. And I think this can be done even as we work with declining and aging membership: this is not an either/or proposition. As a young person, I want a Eucharistic liturgy that is both deeply rooted in our ancient tradition yet oriented towards the issues with which Christians are called to engage. For this reason, supplementary Eucharistic prayer 3 is one of my favourites (our parish uses it on green Sundays). It is clearly informed by the prayer in the BCP and yet also strongly oriented towards mission and loving service in the world. In addition, I like the efforts to revise the collects so they more closely match the three-year lectionary. I think more seasonal options for the Eucharistic rite would be helpful (again, our parish uses an adaptation of the C of E Common Worship penitential rite to begin the liturgy in Lent). I would also like to see more integration of indigenous forms of prayer, as in the New Zealand Prayer Book (although I know this would be enormously difficult because there is no single indigenous voice in Canada). Finally, when all is said and done, please let us have only a Book of Common Prayer and not parallel books of alternatives.

    • Eileen Scully

      Hi Brad. You bring up some really good suggestions, most of which I’ve already heard discussed within the LTF to some degree or other… and that’s not at all to dismiss, but rather the opposite, to say hmmm… we’re on to some things here. Especially the seasonal materials, I think. Feel free to say more, and to invite others to say more about these things.

      The Indigenous voice is a particular area of deep concern for me – because, for one, as you say, it’s voices, plural. But there are some common forms. One of the pieces of work in which I had the most delight was back about 10 years ago compiling what at that time were liturgical materials being developed in local Indigenous communities. They’re collected in an area on here called “Worship in the Vision of New Agape” (that’s both the title for a graphic-visual presentation one-pager and the I think 88 page collection of resources). There’s much more been produced since then, and a very good reminder to pay special attention to these voices. To have the many and many voiced conversations that need to happen.

      As for a harmonized book… well, it’s going to be some years still of trial use and evaluation processes rolling out resources in stages and in pieces… I’m thinking that it won’t be long before we will be more aware of the core ‘authorized corpus’ in some form on a website, and that that particular sense of ‘one book’ (one site, where all the authorized stuff is) will grow a sense of ‘one book’ before we look to publishing options.

      Thanks, again, for your comments!

  3. By and large, I think these rites have proven to have been well-conceived and formulated. The baptismal rite does need to allow for more extensive intercessions than just for the candidate(s). The recent addition to the baptismal covenant is a happy one indeed. A slight revision of EP#6 to provide for other forms of address than “Father” would be welcome. While it’s not a textual question as such, it’s a shame that EP#6 is not used more than it is. After all, it is the single most ecumenically used EP anywhere. In the end, though, while texts and words are far from unimportant, I think we have, by and large, yet to grasp the nettle of attending to the other symbols of the liturgy. First among all of these is liturgical space — “the final frontier.” The renewal of space is, of course, expensive and highly contentious, yet our buildings continue to shout down virtually everything else we are trying to say about the Body of Christ. Most fonts do little to suggest tombs or wombs of new life. The bread and wine commonly used hardly resemble festive food and drink.

    • Eileen Scully

      Hi Kevin,

      Amen and Amen to all. And your reply points exactly to the matter at hand – we start out talking about revision of texts and when it comes down to it, the principal thing that’s felt as crisis (or at least major challenge) has to do with liturgical formation of leaders and those who prepare worship.

      All comments are being passed along!

      And keep ’em coming!

  4. The Baptismal rite needs prayers of the people. I insert these after the baptism and before the peace.
    In the early rites, the newly baptized joined the assembly to join in the priestly task of interceding.

    • Eileen Scully

      Dear Barbara,

      Exactly, and how good of you to bring this up… there is a small group looking at baptismal rites. They’ve been studying the rites used around the Communion and in ELCIC and some other sources, and have been keenly pointing out some of the glaring ‘lacks.’ I love this image of the newly baptized joining in leading the intercessions!

      All comments being passed along!

      Keep ’em coming!


  5. Easily accessible Web resources would be a wonderful way of having access to material. I wish that 2015 McCausland’s Order of Divine Service Year B was available that way and maybe available through e-reader’s like Kindle, Smartphone, etc. Maybe an APP could be developed which could contain all our resources in an accessible and readable format with updates made available. In our public services inclusive language should be our norm. I like the emphasis in the ELCIC of having an optional renewal of Baptismal vows at the beginning of each service.

    • Eileen Scully

      Dear “Padre Mike”,
      All comments gratefully received, and all of the things you mention are being talked about. I, too, am fond of the ELCIC Evangelical Lutheran Worship option of the Remembrance of Baptism as the core of the Gathering Rite within the Eucharist. (And remember that ELW can be considered one of ‘our’ core liturgical sources, where permitted by the Ordinary.)

  6. Lots of things to be excited about in liturgical renewal! For me, the biggest shift I’m hoping for is a thorough embrace of inclusive/expansive language in our God-talk. Along similar lines, more focus on God’s relationship with the WHOLE creation, not just humans.
    From a more aesthetic perspective, I’m also hoping that we don’t lose the dramatic rhythms of traditional Anglican liturgical prose. And while not wanting to be obscure, there is something to be said for (slightly) archaic diction as a way to penetrate the deep consciousness of prayer.

    • Let’s bring back the deep theological depth of the BCP and do away with the theological lite that we get with BAS .We seem to want to create a prayer book that produces a god after our own heart rather then worshiping the God that is revealed in bible new and Old Testament .there is no real relationship between God and his creation. This present world is destined for destruction and God will create a new heaven and a new earth but this does not mean that we can abuse this present creation but neither do we worship it.

  7. Dawn Leger

    This is such refreshing news and I was so glad to hear more about all this at Conversations 2014.

    With the baptismal rite. I’d love to see a more integrated rewrite of the renunciations. I don’t have a theological issue with them, I just find the language seems out of place with the rest of the rite.

    Also, some more musical offerings that can be easily sung, ideally without paper or screens, using refrains or call and response would be wonderful especially for smaller churches who would love to try new music but do not have the resources.

    Keep up the good work. Bless you.

  8. I would like to see the contemporary language texts reflect contemporary language without reflecting a change in the theological expressions of the Book of Common Prayer. One other commenter called it ‘theology lite’ and that is ultimately what we get: a liturgy with no theological substance or depth as it seeks to replace the wealth of traditional Anglican theology with what the authors assume contemporary worshippers want or ought to want.

    If there is need for a contemporary language service, it should reflect the need to provide a simplified language version that continues to express the fullness of liturgical theology found in the Book of Common Prayer, and should not be an excuse to revise God’s revealed Truth in our own image. The emphasis should not be on feely-goodiness, but on sound doctrine and the liturgy as a means of expressing it. Youth–of whom I am one–are not going to stay in a Church that spends all its time de-emphasizing the role of God’s sanctifying grace by saying that God is all things to all people (viz. God, despite having been revealed by Christ as our Father, can be referred to as Mother because some people might relate to it better and thus Common Praise “revised” hymns to include such language).

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