Committee addresses hymnal supplement, alternate texts, baptismal covenant and calendar changes

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jun 23, 2024

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] The legislative committees on Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music on June 23 recommended that General Convention adopt amended resolutions to create alternate texts for existing authorized hymns as well as a new supplement to The Hymnal 1982.

Legislative committees include parallel committees of deputies and of bishops, which, though distinct, typically meet and deliberate together but vote separately.

Resolution A130 puts in motion efforts that began at the 80th General Convention in 2022 to create alternatives for “colonialist, racist and white supremacist, imperialist and nationalistic language and content” in hymnal texts. New language for those who are not English speakers is to be expanded as well.

The resolution calls for Church Publishing provide these new texts in a digital collection available across The Episcopal Church. A provision that the use of the texts would require approval from a diocese’s ecclesiastical authority was removed upon the recommendation of Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall.

The resolution comes with a budget request of $200,000.

House of Deputies committee members voted to remove the resolution from that house’s consent calendar so it can be discussed and highlighted on the floor.

The committee also recommended adoption, with minor style amendments, of Resolution A131, which calls on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to work with Church Publishing Inc. during the next triennium to develop a new hymnal supplement. The last supplement, Voices Found, was issued in 2003.

An allocation of $750,000 for this effort is recommended.

The committees also considered Resolution B001, which would have permitted creation-care language used in liturgies of the Anglican Church of Canada be added for trial use in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer Baptismal Covenant.

Several attempts were made to improve the resolution before the Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, bishop of Fond du Lac, provisional bishop of Eau Claire and assisting bishop of Milwaukee, said that while the church needs to focus more on creation care, this resolution was “trying to make the Baptismal Covenant do too much.” Some members also felt the suggested language didn’t match the tenor or tone of the covenant.

California deputy the Rev. Ruth Meyers then suggested a substitute motion that directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop additional language for the Baptismal Covenant that expands on the baptismal responsibility to care for creation and report proposed revisions to the 82nd General Convention. It also encourages congregations that wish to experiment with creation-care language in the Baptismal Covenant or other liturgies to request permission of their ecclesiastical authority to do so.

The committees then recommended adoption of the substitute resolution.

Members of both committees also voted to recommend adoption of a series of resolutions that would add to the church calendar on second reading. Three topics, each of which had been a separate resolution, will be combined into one “omnibus” resolution, currently A121:

  • The Commemoration of the Consecration of Barbara Clementine Harris.
  • The Commemoration of Simeon Bachos, whose conversion to Christianity is recounted in Acts 8.
  • The Commemoration of Frederick Howden, Jr., who served as missionary bishop of New Mexico and Southwest Texas in the early 20th century.

Resolution C023, proposing five additional commemorations on first reading, also was recommended for adoption:

  • The Commemoration of the Ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women ordained priests in The Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974.
  • Élie Naud, a 1722 Huguenot Witness to the Faith.
  • George of Lydda, the patron saint of England and a symbol of liberation throughout the Middle East. The resolution also asks the standing commission to finalize a biography to be included.
  • The Commemoration of Liliʻuokalani of Hawai’i, the islands’ final monarch.
  • The Commemoration of Adeline Blanchard Tyler and her Companions. Tyler was the first Episcopal deaconess who, along with her companion deaconesses, served in Baltimore, Maryland.

A final recommended omnibus resolution 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.
  • Refer commemorations of Howard Thurman and Ilia Chavchavadze of Georgia to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for creation of propers in the next three years.

—Melodie Woerman is a freelance reporter based in Kansas.