Common Prayer for the Twenty-first Century
It has been 36 years since the adoption of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. In recent years there has been an increasing amount of liturgical experimentation in parishes across The Episcopal Church. This rich and diverse creativity at the local level has enhanced the experience of worship in the 21st century.
The whole Church should be able to benefit from new local insights in worship in a dialogue that can serve worship everywhere in the Church. The Annual Convention of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut has filed resolution C016 and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has filed resolution A066, with the same text, to amend Article X of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church to enable General Convention to provide for the “use of other forms for the renewal and enrichment of the common worship of this Church for such periods of time and upon such terms and conditions as General Convention may provide.” The proposed amendment would create a framework for experimentation that would also ensure common prayer for the 21st. century.
Should General Convention adopt this amendment, it would encourage creative ideas to be brought forward from the grassroots so that they can be refined and improved in a dialogue that includes lay and clerical deputies and bishops from the dioceses of this Church. Considerations of liturgical theology, ecclesiology, ecumenical insights and liturgical guidelines adopted by the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation would be part of that dialogue. The proposed amendment would enable General Convention, if it chose, to establish a general framework for any liturgical experimentation that could clearly delineate those who should be part of a conversation that would enable the flourishing of creative experimentation while ensuring that those in the local congregation have a definitive role as well as the bishop in authorizing use in that parish. The proposed amendment, then, allows maximal flexibility and the nimbleness required to respond to and claim the creative liturgical ferment across the Church by authorizing General Convention, with its lay and clerical deputies and bishops, to respond to specific experimental worship proposals. It also allows for General Convention to create a general framework for authorizing experimentation at the local level at any time that maintains the important voice of the baptized in this Church, along with the local cleric and bishop, in the forming of the worship of this Church.
- Robert J. Brooks, Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission