Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music considers some of the 43 resolutions

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jun 22, 2024

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] The legislative committees on Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music took another look at some of the 43 resolutions assigned to them during their first in-person meeting June 22, the day before the start of legislative sessions at the 81st General Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

Highlighting the day was action on Resolution A115, authorizing alternative readings for the Good Friday liturgy. The committees adopted amendments to provide the texts for alternative use with the permission of local bishops until the 82nd General Convention can take further action in 2027. California deputy the Rev. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Prayer Book subcommittee, noted that the resolution commends a version of the passion Gospel used by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as an alternate to the reading in the Book of Common Prayer, which is seen by many as antisemitic. These texts would be available to the  church at no cost via electronic distribution, and a budget recommendation of $2,500 would assist with creating equivalent translations into Spanish, French and Haitian Creole languages.

The committees also voted to recommend General Convention adopt Resolution C032, in which it expresses remorse for the role The Episcopal Church played in the irreparable harm suffered by Indigenous children who attended boarding and residential schools in the 1800s and 1900s, and acknowledges the harmful effect boarding schools had on survivors and their descendants. The resolution also includes a Prayer for the Innocents.

The resolution was adopted with minor edits and removed from the House of Deputies’ consent calendar in favor of discussion on the floor.

Consent calendars are handled differently in the two houses. Most resolutions automatically go on the House of Deputies’ consent calendar unless deputy committees vote to remove one for floor debate. The opposite is the case in the House of Bishops. Bishop committees must vote to put a resolution on their consent calendar; otherwise it is up for floor debate.

In other liturgical changes, a resolution creating a gender-neutral language version of Eucharistic Prayer C in Rite II (Resolution A114) received minor amendments before the committees voted to recommend it.

Deputies’ committee chair the Ven. Stan Baker of Vermont said a churchwide survey about Prayer C showed that many people welcomed some changes to a prayer that they loved, while other Eucharistic prayers in 2018 received expansive language options. “There was expansive language for A, B and D, and then people threw up their hands about Prayer C,” he said. A budget request of $9,000 also was included.

Deputies and bishops both voted to adopt a substitute for Resolution A113, which originally would have allowed bishops to establish versions of Rite I Prayer Book liturgies that have been converted to modern language. The substitute would direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to gather the various versions of revised Rite I liturgies and in three years bring the best of them back to General Convention to decide what should be adopted for authorized use across the church.

The committees also recommended adoption of Resolution A125, which asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to add fast days to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Meyers noted that weekdays in Lent used to be in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, but when those were moved elsewhere, Lesser Feasts and Fasts no longer includes any fasts. Both bishops and deputies voted to adopt the resolution, with bishops voting to put it on their house’s consent calendar.

Resolution A126 proposes changes to the dates on which some feast days are marked. Amendments removed Simeon Bachos, the Ethiopian eunuch (who is the subject of another resolution mentioned below) and made the changes subject to trial use.

Both committees also voted to adopt with amendment Resolution A127, which would create a working group to update biographies in Lesser Feasts and Fasts to explore anyone whose actions were opposed to the Baptismal Covenant, including those who might have been involved in the slave trade, Indigenous boarding schools or segregation. A budget request of $30,000 also was added. Bishops voted to place it on their consent calendar.

Votes in both committees recommended that convention take no further action on Resolution A128, since members understood that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music already was empowered to make minor edits and correct typographical errors in future copies of Lesser Feasts and Fasts; the resolution also will go on the House of Bishops consent calendar.

Resolution A129, which would amend the lectionary readings for commemorations in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, also was recommended for adoption by both committees. The accompanying document would add a third reading for most observances and reduce the number of lessons that occur on multiple feast days.

A resolution to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and observe Juneteenth (Resolution 109) was adopted with amendments to create a more inclusive liturgy that notes the end of slavery without centering the United States’ experience, allowing it to be used by churches in countries outside the U.S. where it would be helpful. Deputies also voted to remove this from their house’s consent calendar.

Creation of resources and models for online/in person hybrid worship in Resolution A111 also was adopted. Members were assured that the standing commission would rely on people with the expertise and experience in online worship to assist.

Proposed changes to the church’s calendar were explained by the Rev. Philip Dinwiddie, a clergy deputy from Michigan and chair of the calendar subcommittee. He described new substitute resolutions that gathered resolutions together by topics so they could be handled more easily both by the committees and on the floors of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

One new substitute resolution grouped together three calendar changes that are on second reading, a canonical requirement since calendar changes affect the church’s Constitution:

  • The Commemoration of the Consecration of Barbara Clementine Harris, the first woman to become bishop in the Anglican Communion (previous Resolution A121).
  • The Commemoration of Simeon Bachos, the Ethiopian eunuch whose conversion to Christianity is recounted in Acts 8 (previous Resolution A120).
  • The Commemoration of Frederick Howden, Jr., a chaplain in the New Mexico National State Guard who served heroically and died in the Philippines during World War II (previous Resolution A119).

Another substitute resolution grouped together two calendar additions on first reading:

  • The Commemoration of Lili’uokalani of Hawai’i, the islands’ final monarch (previous Resolution 124) .
  • The Commemoration of Adeline Blanchard Tyler and her Companions (previous Resolution A123). Tyler was the first Episcopal deaconess who, along with her companion deaconesses, served in Baltimore, Maryland.

Resolution A122 would withdraw previous convention action to commemorate deaconesses in general, after the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music decided to honor named individuals rather than groups on the calendar.

Resolutions that would add Howard Thurman (C011 and C012 ) and Ilia Chavchavadze of Georgia (C020) to the calendar would be referred to the Standing Commission to prepare liturgical resources that then could come before the 82nd General Convention in 2027.

Trial use will be recommended for three commemorations, each with minor changes to some of the recommended readings:

  • The Commemoration of the Ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women ordained priests in The Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974 (Resolution C023).
  • Élie Naud, a 1722 Huguenot Witness to the Faith (Resolution C021).
  • George of Lydda, the patron saint of England and a symbol of liberation throughout the Middle East (Resolution D033), asking the standing commission to finalize the biography to be included.

Committees will vote on these resolutions during a June 23 meeting.

The committees also heard testimony on two resolutions:

  • C036, which asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to explore adding an option to allow the Peace that is exchanged in services of Holy Eucharist to come at the beginning of the service instead of after the confession and absolution.
  • D070, which would require all Episcopal Church parishes to pray for the people of Haiti every Sunday.

—Melodie Woerman is a freelance reporter based in Kansas.