It is a most invaluable part of that blessed “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline; and therefore, by common consent and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most convenient for the edification of the people,” according to the various exigency of times and occasions.” ~ Preface to the BCP, page 9
In many ways, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was a realization of many of the aims of the Catholic movement in the Anglican Communion. Communion was once more located as the central act of worship on Sundays and other Major Feasts. The office was restored and expanded. New pastoral rites were added along with a much fuller traditional observance of Holy Week. And, as the years have gone one, chasubles, candles, and many of the components of Anglo-Catholic worship are now common and uncontroversial.
At the same time, those who lived through the transition to the 1979 BCP remember how controversial it was. It was a difficult time to be a priest—exciting, perhaps—but hard.
As the Episcopal Church prepares for her 78th General Convention, one of the questions being considered is whether or not it is time for a further revision to the prayer book. Everything from gender-inclusive language to a new BCP rite for marriage has been suggested.
What is needed? Does the current Book of Common Prayer remain sufficient for our time? Is there a need for a revision, whether small or large? Or, like in some other parts of the Communion, are the days of one shared book of worship slipping away with supplemental liturgies taking the place? There have been times where the Anglo-Catholic movement has been seen as the home of much inattention to the rubrics and rules of the BCP—is that still the case?
What does Common Prayer need to look like in the Episcopal Church today—and what should General Convention be focusing on to help further that end?
For our third #TractSwarm, we are asking our members to write blog posts about their own thoughts as priests, deacons, bishops, religious, or seminarians on these questions. What do we, as the church in the 21st century believe should happen with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer?
We’d particularly invite our Canadian members to chime in—your experience of a different book can shed some light on these questions for us in the United States.
Posts on #TractSwarm Three: Prayer Book Revision
Posted in the order they were written.
- Fr. Kevin Morris, “What We Have; What We Lost; What We need“
- Fr. Jared Cramer, “Thoughtfully Reflective Prayer Book Revision“
- Fr. Ethan Jewett, “Anglican Comprehensiveness and Prayer Book Revision“
- Fr. Keith Voets, “Prayer Book Revision: An Impending Nightmare or A Catholic Opportunity“