Deputies’ committee reverses its vote, now supports resolution on prayer book definition

By David Paulsen
Posted Jun 24, 2024

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] The deputies’ Committee on Constitution & Canons reversed itself on June 24 and voted in favor of a key constitutional change related to the prayer book, giving the change additional momentum as it heads to the full House of Deputies for debate.

Bishops and deputies are assigned to distinct, parallel committees that typically meet together to deliberate and vote on resolutions. Two days earlier, on June 22, the bishops’ committee had voted unanimously to recommend Resolution A072,  a constitutional change that aims to better define the Book of Common Prayer.  The vote in the deputes’ committee failed, 4-6, an indication that the change could face opposition when it reaches the floor of the House of Deputies.

Then on June 24, bishops’ and deputies’ committees began by revising and voting in favor of a separate but related resolution, B008. It would amend Episcopal Church canons to clarify the difference between the Book of Common Prayer, trial use liturgies and additional authorized liturgies.

The Rev. Laurie Brock of the Diocese of Lexington, who previously had voted no on A072, said the clarifications in B008 had alleviated some of her concerns, enough that she would be willing to support A072. The deputies agreed to reconsider their previous vote, and in a new vote, they recommended A072, 7-5.

Later in the day, the full House of Bishops adopted A072, sending it to the House of Deputies for a final vote later this week.

A072 is a “second reading” because constitutional changes require affirmative votes at two successive meetings of General Convention. B008 is a canonical change requiring only votes at a single General Convention. Either or both resolutions would take effect Jan. 1, 2025,  if adopted by both houses.

Some members of the Constitution & Canons committee expressed continued concerns about possible ambiguity in the A072’s description of the Book of Common Prayer as “those liturgical forms and other texts authorized by the General Convention in accordance with this article and the canons of this church.”

In response, the committees are expected to introduce a third resolution that would propose further changes to that language in the Constitution’s Article X, but on a separate timeline. Because it would require another constitutional change, that third resolution would take effect no sooner than 2027 at the 82nd General Convention.

– David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service based in Wisconsin. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


Tags