By Kirk Petersen
Prayer book revision is a perennial hot topic, and the Church has launched a new website at EpiscopalCommonPrayer.org designed to facilitate the many conversations under way, in diocesan liturgical commissions, collections of essays, and a variety of other venues.
The 2018 General Convention passed a resolution, A068, calling for creation of a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPBR), which is studying the issue and will report back to the 2021 General Convention. (It’s pronounced “tiffle-pibber.”)
A068 was a compromise reached after the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops took very different positions on a proposed $8 million, 12-year plan for comprehensive revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The deputies showed considerable enthusiasm and backed the proposal by more than two to one. Three days later, the bishops killed the plan “on a voice vote that sounded unanimous.” Among other changes, the original proposal envisioned including same-sex marriage rites and inclusive language.
The new website, available in English and Spanish, serves as a clearinghouse for a huge number of resources, including prior versions of the Book of Common Prayer, trial use liturgies, and other supplemental materials.
“General Convention called for bishops to ‘engage worshiping communities in experimentation and the creation of alternative texts,’” said the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology at Sewanee and chair of TFLPBR, in a news release. “We want the richness of these liturgical experiments born out of the needs of local communities to inform our work toward liturgical revision.”
Earlier this year, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) published the Book of Common Prayer 2019, the result of an effort that began shortly after ACNA was founded in 2009. The new prayer book uses modern language while seeking to conform more closely to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s version, as published in 1549 and comprehensively updated in 1662. Covenant, the online weblog of TLC, has published two essays responding to the new prayer book.