By Zachary Guiliano
Charles Stuart, king and martyr, may at last join the figures commemorated by Episcopalians.
The Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music spent most of its meeting Thursday afternoon on two resolutions related to the Episcopal Church’s calendar of commemorations.
Resolution A056 aims at replacing the commemorative work Holy Women, Holy Men with a more tightly focused document known as A Great Cloud of Witnesses.
“I speak in tepid support of this resolution,” said Bishop Daniel Martins of Springfield. “I think the whole thing is such a mess that we would be well-served by scrapping it all and starting from scratch, but the most important thing to understand about A Great Cloud of Witnesses is that it’s not just a different breed [of resource], but a different species.”
Bishop Martins said A Great Cloud of Witnesses would move the Episcopal Church away from a large calendar of individuals deemed saints to a more compact list of common celebrations. He commended the work of Derek Olsen in helping to create and explain A Great Cloud of Witnesses. Olsen has written numerous essays on the topic at The St. Bede Blog.
The committee proposed and debated various amendments to the resolution for about 30 minutes. The central issue concerned the inclusion of non-Christians on the church’s list of optional commemorations.
The Rev. Paul Fromberg, deputy from the Diocese of California, argued for the inclusion of non-Christians. “I think non-Christians witness to Christ,” he said. “This is an aspect of the Spirit of Christ, which is effervescent and flows through all creation.”
Fromberg is rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, which is well known for commemorating figures including Malcolm X, Lady Godiva, and Charles Darwin.
The issue was resolved by determining that “exceptional” non-Christians who “exemplify Christ” may be included, if they significantly affect the church’s life and understanding of the gospel.
The heavily amended resolution will be sent to both houses for further discussion.
The committee next took up resolution A055, which proposed numerous additions to the Episcopal Church’s calendar. The committee amended this resolution so that it now includes all of the saints proposed to General Convention by various resolutions. The committee recommended that all of these individuals be reviewed by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music under a series of guidelines included in Resolution A056.
The list of individuals includes more than 60 sixty new names, most of them women. Many of them were not Anglicans or Episcopalians, and several were not Christians.
Bishop Martins proposed a new amendment.
“In this situation, under the new criteria, I would like to include Charles Stuart, king and martyr,” he said. “There is a longstanding cult of veneration in the Episcopal Church and, given the criteria and individuals we have just included, there seems to be no reason to exclude him.”
Laughter and murmurs filled the room. More than one member of the committee voiced agreement with the bishop’s proposal, and even those who were less than enthusiastic saw little reason to oppose it.
“I don’t have an opinion one way or another,” said the Rev. John Zamboni, deputy from New Jersey. “But I think it make sense to support his addition under the current criteria.”
Image of King Charles from the Society of King Charles the Martyr (U.K.)