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Thursday, July 6, 2017

THE ONCE AND FUTURE PRAYER BOOK

A group of influential liturgical scholars and prayer book experts met on the VTS campus in June to discuss the future of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP.) This consultation was in response to the 2015 General Convention’s mandate to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop a process for the possible revision of the BCP, and was designed to inform the commission’s report to the 2018 General Convention. This conference was co-sponsored by the Center for Liturgy and Music and the School of Theology at the University of the South.

The Most Rev. Frank Griswold opened with an address in which he submitted that the ethos of the 1979 BCP has not been fully integrated into the Episcopal Church making prayer book premature. The second plenary was given by the Rev. Dr. Lizette Larson Miller who contrasted the ecclesial and cultural differences between the era of the 1979 BCP’s creation and the present day.

The remainder of the consultation comprised panel discussions. We heard from our ecumenical partners about recent revisions to the Roman Missal, the Church of England’s Common Worship, and Evangelical Lutheran Worship, as well as ways the arts relate to prayer book revision.

The Rev. Dr. John Baldovin summed up our topic well as he stated that “the utter centrality of the paschal mystery in our liturgies and a baptismal ecclesiology” were non-negotiable principles in considering liturgical revision.

The second portion of the consultation will be held at Sewanee in October and will delve into the major rites of the Book of Common Prayer, assessing their present strengths and weaknesses.

Ellen Johnston
Program Consultant, Center for Liturgy and Music
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