For the last 40 years many people in the Church have referred to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as “the new prayer book!”
In my lifetime, I have witnessed individuals leave the Church over changes in the Book of Common Prayer, while others express great disdain for the patriarchal, non-inclusive language of said new prayer book. As such, some faith communities still use Rite I for those who appreciate more traditional language and others worshippers have chosen to use more inclusive authorized liturgies.
Growing up in an Anglo-Catholic faith community and then having a long history in the camp/youth world, I have learned to navigate the depth and breadth of the liturgical offerings in the Episcopal Church. I was also very fortunate during my early formation to be instructed by some of the Church’s greatest liturgical minds at that time. Trust me, this comprehensive experience and formation has benefited me greatly serving as a Bishop.
At our last General Convention, we spent significant time once again discussing the future of the liturgical life of our Church. Working through numerous resolutions and recommendations from a dedicated cadre of folks who worked faithfully for three years, the Church, in her wisdom, once again decided we needed more time for consideration and exploration of their recommendations. Two months after General Convention I was in a meeting with the Presiding Bishop when he said, “It would be great if you would serve on the Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision.”
So alas, I have spent the subsequent months working with a number of faithful folks, and a few really big liturgical nerds, going through a variety of proposals on our liturgical life. This week I will be doing a deep dive with this group of people at Emory University in Atlanta. It is good and important work. Liturgy is a big deal to the vast majority of Episcopalians, which is why there is no shortage of opinions. Your prayers, however you offer them, would be greatly appreciated.
2 thoughts on “Prayers for the Book of Common Prayer”
First of all I am very pleased to find out that you are on this very important committee, secondly I will be praying for you and the rest of the committee.
Dear Bishop Prior, I like to share two things about the BCP
One is that the BCP is at the core of my being. When I was preparing for ordination I had to deal with my peripatetic childhood and came to realize that what held me together during those years was the BCP. No matter where we lived, there was this constant in my life. Of course that was the 1928 book. I made the transition to the new book and am quite fond of it but I would caution against making too many variations on a theme.
The other is that when John and I were in Newfoundland two summers ago, we came across the Canadian Book of Alternative Services. Our favorite part is a simple collect after each Psalm which normally brings the Psalm home to roost as it were. Also the layout in the offices gives the lesson choices right where they belong in the service and not in a calendar in the back of the book. I bring this to your attention as something to think about when working on a new BCP.
I now spend time with colleagues here at EHomes suffering from dementia. I watch as they come alive during the liturgy. Some who are close to non responsive can make the responses and sing the hymns quite clearly and are totally present to the service. The liturgy has incredible power in our lives. It is important to keep it familiar if not exactly the same as it was in my childhood.
You certainly have my prayers for the work of renewing and refreshing the BCP I just wanted to put in my two cents worth. Blessings, Lyn Lawyer
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