Adapted from the Office of Public Affairs
A note from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music regarding the Episcopal Church’s calendar of commemorations
Since the 2015 General Convention, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has received several requests for clarification concerning the calendar of commemorations. The confusion stems from the convention’s decision regarding A Great Cloud of Witnesses, which the commission had proposed as a new and expanded volume of optional commemorations of significant figures in the history of our church.
The commission intended A Great Cloud of Witnesses to replace Holy Women, Holy Men, the volume of optional commemorations that was authorized for trial use in 2009. The convention, however, declined to authorize A Great Cloud of Witnesses as an official liturgical resource, while at the same time allowing the authorization of Holy Women, Holy Men to lapse.
As a result of these actions, the volume Lesser Feasts and Fasts, last published in 2006, remains the Episcopal Church’s official calendar of optional commemorations, but without the trial-use commemorations that appear in brackets in the Calendar section in the 2006 edition.
However, in Resolution A056 the convention chose to make A Great Cloud of Witnesses “available” for “devotional or catechetical use, or use in public worship.” The volume, which will be available from Church Publishing in September, includes all of the commemorations in Holy Women, Holy Men, although some entries have been revised. A Great Cloud of Witnesses also includes commemorations added to the calendar at the 2015 General Convention.
In addition, local parishes retain significant discretion regarding optional commemorations. The Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar in the Episcopal Church (pp. 491-93 in Lesser Feasts and Fasts) specify, “it should normatively be the case that significant commemoration of a particular person already exists at the local and regional levels before that person is included the Calendar of the Episcopal Church as a whole.” Therefore, commemorations made available in Holy Women, Holy Men and A Great Cloud of Witnesses may be observed by local parishes, just as commemorations arising from the experiences of particular communities may also be observed.