Frequently Asked Questions
By The Rev. Marcus, Kaiser, Rector, Church of the Holy Comforter, Sumter
My wife calls me the “Forrest Gump of the Anglican Church.” You remember the movie, where Tom Hanks plays the lovable Gump. Despite an outward lack of any giftedness, Gump always seems to fall forward and find himself in places reserved for much more dignified and skilled folks. So it is with my place on the Anglican Church in North America’s Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force. Yet there I am, along with PhD scholars and bishops.
In this piece, I simply want to share some of what that group is doing and answer a few of the most common questions as we head toward publishing a new 2019 Book of Common Prayer (BCP). I also want to remind you that we have, at the diocesan level, a Liturgy and Common Worship Commission. Although that group has been quiet for a long time, I expect as a new prayer book becomes available it will be the Commission’s role to be a bridge between the province and diocese. I pray this is the start of a conversation, one perhaps already engaged among the clergy. I have fielded any number of phone calls and emails about the proposed Texts for Common Worship, and I count that a true blessing and joy. If you have any questions, not answered below, or need a resource you can’t find, drop me a line.
The Liturgy and Worship Commission of the Diocese of South Carolina is really a joint commission of two separate sub-committees: the Liturgy Committee and the Music Committee. The Liturgy Committee is responsible for providing liturgical resources and information to the diocese, all under the approval and guidance of her bishop. The Music Committee provides musical resources and information to the diocese and on occasion helps plan the musical offerings for diocesan events. Both committees are there to help the parish priest and lay leadership with anything they need to bring worship to Jesus Christ in the Anglican tradition.
The ACNA’s Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force (LCWTF) is working feverishly to produce a Book of Common Prayer with the intention that it be ratified by the Provincial Assembly in 2019. The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence and I are both members of that task force. The working texts for the new BCP, along with many other resources, are available here.
Below are some of the more frequently asked questions regarding the proposed trial liturgies and the upcoming BCP.
A: With the formation of the ACNA in 2009, several different Anglican jurisdictions and dioceses came together to form a new province. This meant a good deal of variation in tradition and expression within the breadth of Anglicanism. For example, the Diocese of South Carolina has primarily used the 1979 BCP in most of our parishes for nearly 40 years. The church in Canada and the Reformed Episcopal Church, on the other hand, have never used that book, and some churches in the ACNA were formed using the Kenyan prayer book or the Nigerian prayer book. The ACNA College of Bishops decided that the best way to work toward truly common prayer was to commission a new prayer book that drew on all of these traditions, representing classical Anglican theology in modern language and idiom.
A: The 2008 Jerusalem Declaration says, “We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.” The same sentiment is reflected in the ACNA’s Constitution and Canons and our own diocesan canons. Therefore, the 1662 is the standard on which the work of the LCWTF is based. That basis is then informed by the various liturgical traditions that preceded and followed the 1662 including: Evangelical, Anglo-catholic, and charismatic practice; ecumenical dialogue with other liturgical traditions; other prayer books including those of the American and Canadian churches; and shifts in style and meaning in the English language.
An example of this approach is the two proposed rites for Holy Eucharist. The Common Text is a modernization of the 1928 BCP rite, with rubrical permission to rearrange it and omit certain sections to conform with the 1662. It is intended to capture the breadth of our Anglican heritage. The Ancient Text is a translation of the 4th century Canons of Hippolytus, informed by the musicality of the 1979 BCP Eucharistic Prayer A (itself much more loosely based on Hippolytus). This is both in recognition of the drastic liturgical changes of the 20th century and in recognition of our ongoing dialogue with the Eastern and Roman Churches.
A: The College of Bishops intentionally sought to avoid coercion but rather charged the LCWTF to produce a book that would be attractive to as many as possible. There is no plan to require anyone to use the 2019 book. The College of Bishops passed a resolution in December, 2017 that said in part, “the College sees no route to making it mandatory at the Provincial level (principle of subsidiarity) or to ruling out continuing use, under the authority of the local Bishop, (of not only 1662 and its predecessor books but) of the Prayer Books that were in use at the time the Province came together.”
A: Our diocesan canons state that “‘Worship’ in the Diocese of South Carolina shall be those liturgies as described by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the 2003 Book of Occasional Services. All other liturgies shall require the express approval by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese.” Bishop Lawrence has approved usage of the ACNA liturgies, called “The Texts for Common Worship” on the ACNA website, as well.
A: You can. However, as stated in the previous question, according to the canons of the diocese and the province, the bishop must give explicit permission to use anything outside of the approved liturgies.
A: The LCWTF has authorized a sub-committee, chaired by the Rev. Kaiser, to produce a companion resource to the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. That volume will include all of the rites of the new BCP in Elizabethan English. We expect to publish that resource as concurrent as possible to the 2019 BCP. Meanwhile, both the 1979 Rite I and the 1928 Book of Common Prayer are fully authorized. According to a poll conducted by our Liturgy and Worship Commission, most of the parishes in this diocese use some traditional language liturgy.
A: The membership of the LCWTF and the sub-committees is listed on the ACNA’s website. The team represents a wide cross-section of the ACNA and includes Anglo-catholics, Evangelicals, and Charismatics. For a helpful report from an outsider’s perspective on the work and ethos of the LCWTF , we commend this article: http://www.leaderworks.org/people-of-the-book/?utm_content=buffer7c313&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
A: Shortly after the formation of the ACNA in 2009, the Archbishop — with College of Bishops’ encouragement — appointed the LCWTF. The first responsibilities were to approve a “lens” through which all liturgies would be evaluated and, as follow-up, to propose an Ordinal for the province.
A: You can send comments on the published liturgies by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Every comment is then catalogued by the secretary of the Task Force and reviewed by the entire group. It should be said that never before has an Anglican province attempted to solicit this level of input. The LCWTF has received thousands of comments ranging from short editorial and typo corrections to long theological position papers. The currently published Daily Office and Eucharistic texts are the result of that feedback. Over the next year, the LCWTF will be considering comments on all of the other liturgies.
A: The LCWTF expects the basic content and format of the 2019 BCP to follow that of previous books. However, we no longer live in a primarily printed age; electronic media allow us to publish new liturgies and resources as needed rather than print them directly in the book.
A: The LCWTF is currently hard at work reviewing and revising the work of the Psalter sub-committee. That sub-committee is using as its basic source the Coverdale Psalter and a 1963 Revised Coverdale. That 1963 version was an attempted revision by the Church of England, with notable committee members C.S. Lewis and T.S. Elliot.
Until the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Coverdale Psalter (taken from the 1539 Great Bible by Miles Coverdale) was the prayer book standard. Even after the King James Bible was published in 1611, the 1662 BCP and subsequent books retained the Coverdale Psalter because of its timeless beauty and accuracy.
A: The music sub-committee is already working to put the Texts for Common Worship to musical settings. However, that work will begin in earnest once the final texts are approved. As they become available, those resources will be posted to the ACNA website.
A: Right now, the LCWTF has not begun working on a hymnal for the ACNA. There are varying views on how and when that work should proceed. One piece of that puzzle is that the overall use of printed and bound hymnals is no longer the expected standard. Rest assured, the diocesan Liturgy and Worship Commission will do our best to communicate with the diocese and make sure our voice is heard at the provincial level.