Face Time for the SCLM

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music held its only face-to-face 2013 meeting in Milwaukee June 24-26, and is discovering the limits of online meetings. The commission keeps a blog of its discussions and tasks.

“I’m not completely satisfied with the online meeting format for commissions,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. “It helps us keep accountable to one another for the work and move things along a bit. But it’s not a complete substitute for face-to-face meetings. For example, the commission prays liturgical texts as it reviews them, and that’s harder to do online. Online meetings give no space for the informal times that allow relationships to develop, and those relationships are very important in getting work done.”

Other commission members have endured technical problems that prevented them from participating fully in the online meetings. The Rev. Louis Weil of CDSP said that during one online meeting he had no audio signal and during another he had an audio signal but no video.

In 2012 General Convention charged the commission with developing five position papers:

  • Gather responses about same-sex blessing rites and decide what revisions or additions to present to the next convention
  • Gather responses on the 120 additional individuals approved for trial use by General Convention in 2009 and to make a final recommendation to the next General Convention in 2015 on their inclusion in Holy Women, Holy Men
  • Identify resources that will help clergy and congregations address anti-Judaism
  • Develop guidelines for deciding which translations of Scripture  should be authorized for use in public worship (about a dozen translations are approved under Canon II.2)
  • Revise the Book of Occasional Services

The 2012 General Convention approved a same-sex blessing rite for provisional use under the direction of the diocesan bishop, and commended the entirety of I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing. To date 37 dioceses have responded to the commission. Not all of the bishops of the responding dioceses have authorized same-sex blessings. The Archives of the Episcopal Church maintains a complete list on behalf of the commission.

Meyers said she expects the Standing Commission will complete its work on same-sex blessings, the review of additional persons approved in 2009 for inclusion in Holy Women, Holy Men, and guidelines for approving biblical translations. Meyers said she expects an incomplete progress report on revision of the Book of Occasional Services, which General Convention directed the commission to overhaul. Christian anti-Judaism is a long-term project, and Meyers said the commission would be “looking particularly at resources that will help clergy and congregations address the anti-Judaism that can be stirred by Scripture and liturgical texts.”

Steve Waring


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