Clarifying the Great Cloud

After extensive General Convention debates about the merits of replacing the Book of Occasional Services with Holy Women, Holy Men, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is considering a deeper rethinking of the Episcopal Church’s calendar.

An SCLM committee has proposed a new approach, called A Great Cloud of Witnesses, and welcomes comments on it until February 22. The clearest change in the proposal is to clarify the difference between saints and people whose lives have inspired Christians and others.

“However saints are defined, there is one major distinction between saints and other Christians on a very practical level: saints are celebrated in the Eucharist, other people are not. They may be remembered in the prayers or mentioned in the sermon, but it’s the act of eucharistic celebration that makes a saint on the ground. By separating the eucharistic materials from the biographical narratives, we step back from creating an assumption about sainthood, and place that decision back in the hands of the local community — is this person a saint or not?”

The SCLM is likely to decide whether to continue with Holy Women, Holy Men or its new direction during a meeting on February 25.


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