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WPost discovers the bleeding obvious about liturgy: Get Religion, December 27, 2013 January 5, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Hymnody/Liturgy, Press criticism.
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Basil Fawlty: Can’t we get you on Mastermind, Sybil? Next contestant: Mrs. Sybil Fawlty from Torquay. Specialist subject – the bleeding obvious.

Fawlty Towers: Basil the Rat (#2.6)” (1979)

The Washington Post reports some progressive Christians are unsatisfied with contemporary worship and are seeking more traditional ways to do church.

The article “Americans turning to ancient music, practices to experience their faith” highlights the sense of incompleteness, of liturgical inadequacy felt by some Christians this Christmas.

It begins:

In our of-the-minute culture, Santa seems old-fashioned. But Christians are exploring far older ways of observing the holiday.

In the living room this week along with the pile of presents, there’s more likely to be a wreath or calendar marking Advent, the month leading up to Christmas that symbolizes the waiting period before Jesus’s birth. Christmas services largely dominated by contemporary music are mixing in centuries-old chants and other a cappella sounds. Holiday sermons on topics such as prayer, meditation and finding a way to observe the Sabbath are becoming more common.

These early — some use the term “ancient” — spiritual practices are an effort to bring what feels to some like greater authenticity to perhaps the most thoroughly commercialized of religious holidays, say pastors, religious music experts and other worship-watchers.

I find this article problematic. On the surface a reader unacquainted with this topic might assume this is a balanced story reporting on a new trend in American religion.

It offers vignettes that illustrate the phenomena and offers four voices to flesh out the story: Ed Stetzer, Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber and a “man in the street,” or more precisely a lay Catholic woman from suburban Washington. A knowledgeable Washington Post reader might know that one of these voices is conservative: Stetzer, while McLaren and Bolz-Weber are progressive Christians.

As an aside, why does the Post omit “the Rev” before the names of the three clergy on first mention? And, is Brian McLaren an Evangelical? Is that the label he gives to himself, or is it a descriptor given him by the Post? But that is a battle for another day.

Adding Stetzer into the mix to balance McLaren and Bolz-Weber gives the impression of balance, and the pithy quotes offered by the three would lead one to believe that a cultural-religious trend is emerging in American religious life.

My concern is that this trend is about 175 years old. The article is written from a perspective that the progressive wing of the old main line churches is the fulcrum around which American religious life pivots.

“Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail” is an article that has been written several hundred times over the past fifty years, reporting on Christians from non-liturgical traditions entering the Episcopal Church due to its liturgy.

Episcopalians and other Protestants have been entering the Catholic Church since the time of John Henry Newman in large part because of a belief in the inadequacies of their tradition measured against the doctrine, discipline and worship of Rome.

And the Orthodox Churches in America over the past twenty five years  have seen an influx of ex-Protestants who are drawn to that tradition’s “ancient” liturgies and spiritual vigor.

All of what the Post describes about the dissatisfaction some are finding in their “seeker” friendly churches has been reported for decades.

Nor is this a phenomena of movement between faith traditions. Renewing the Catholic Church through the reform of its liturgy was one of, if not the greatest achievement of the papacy of Benedict XVI (from this Episcopalian’s perspective).

When he issued his Summorum Pontificum , allowing the older form of Mass t0 be used once more, Benedict restored to the church the liturgy that had shaped that church’s life for centuries — words that shaped Catholic culture, informed its teaching, instructed its arts and nourished its saints (and even a few sinners).

In a 2006 interview with Zenit, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus spoke of the necessity of reforming modern Catholic worship:

Q: A major theme in your book is the importance of a revitalized liturgy for renewing Catholic life. How do you see that occurring?

Father Neuhaus: Don’t get me started. The banality of liturgical texts, the unsingability of music that is deservedly unsung, the hackneyed New American Bible prescribed for use in the lectionary, the stripped-down architecture devoted to absence rather than Presence, the homiletical shoddiness.

Where to begin? A “high church” Lutheran or Anglican – and I was the former – braces himself upon becoming a Catholic.

The heart of what went wrong, however, and the real need for a “reform of the reform” lies in the fatal misstep of constructing the liturgical action around our putatively amazing selves rather than around the surpassing wonder of what Christ is doing in the Eucharist.

The battle over liturgy and the aesthetics of worship recounted by Fr. Neuhaus is a live topic in many denominations.  But there is so much more to this than the latest liturgical spats.

Carved above the entrance way to a theological college I once attended was the phrase: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. The phrase is often expanded to Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Lex Vivendi and interpreted to mean: “As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live.” Worship reveals what we believe. It is who we are. It is the foundation of our Christian identity.

In an April 15, 2010 address to the Catholic bishops of Brazil gathered in Rome, Benedict said:

Worship, however, cannot come from our imagination: that would be a cry in the darkness or mere self-affirmation. True liturgy supposes that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him. … The Church lives in His presence and its reason for being and existing is to expand His presence in the world.

What the Post has picked up round the beltway — what Benedict told the Brazilian bishops — what Anglicans are seeking to find through the Book of Common Prayer, is the divine presence.

Was the Washington Post unaware of the wider context of liturgical renewal and reform? Or is its worldview so narrow that it cannot see anything? Have they only just now discovered, as Basil Fawlty would say, the “bleeding obvious” about liturgy and church life?

First printed in Get Religion.

Prayer Book reform slated for South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p. 4 April 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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Prayer Book reform, theological education, corruption and crime were the focus of last month’s meeting of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

While the church has seen rapid growth in northern Mozambique — leading to a call for the creation of a new episcopal area Diocese of Niassa — as well as Africa’s first Anglican women bishops, Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland and Margaret Vertue of False Bay, the statement released a close of the 5 – 8 March 2013 meeting in Modderpoort in the Diocese of the Free State acknowledged that “our hearts are deeply troubled as we gather.”

“We have noted with sadness the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Many of our people are trapped in the ever deepening spiral of abject poverty. We note the evidence for a close correlation between corruption and poverty. We, as a church, strongly condemn all forms of corruption, whether it is in the church or in civil society or in government or in business.”

“We call upon all of us to strive for a corruption free society and to challenge the governments and businesses in our region to do the same.”

The bishops also said an “area of particular concern is the escalating violence in South African society.” Citing a series of high-profile rapes and murders the bishops said they “condemn any form of violence, whether it is civil or state violence, domestic or public violence. We call upon all our people to strive for a violence-free society and, by so doing, to allow the light of Christ to permeate our society.”

Within the church the Bishop noted that 2013 would be a year dedicated to theological education and would also see the beginnings of liturgical reform.

There was an “inseparable link between the reform of liturgy and spiritual renewal,” the bishops said, adding: “There is a great sense of excitement as we embark on this process, as the Province, of revising the Anglican Prayer Book 1989. We realise that this will not be a hasty process, especially since we want to ensure that it will be a dynamic tool for mission and ministry, which will give expression to our distinctive identity and spirituality.”

“Through our sharing and praying” the bishops said they had become “deeply aware of the hard realities” of South Africa and had heard “the cries of God’s people”.

“We pray that we as the Church will listen intelligently to what God is saying to us at this time; observe diligently the signs of God’s restorative grace that is breaking through in places where our people are struggling; teach faithfully what God commands us to do; and continue to be God’s Good-news people wherever we live and work,” the statement said.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 69, March 29, 2013 April 3, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage, Popular Culture, The Episcopal Church.
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In this week’s Anglican Unscripted your hosts discuss what Marriage is… and what Marriage isn’t — and with a combined total of 50 years Marriage experience — you are in safe hands. This is also Holy Week and this gives Kevin and George a chance to look around the Communion to discover how clergy are celebrating.
Some around the Anglican Communion have been told that the Episcopal Church doesn’t sue anybody… well the Episcopal church made it very clear this Easter season that is just wrong; and Kevin and AS Haley discuss the latest barrage from 815 and how it effects every vestry member in the Diocese of South Carolina. Kevin, George, Allan, and Peter pray that this Easter brings you into a closer walk with the Man who left the tomb empty. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet: AU69

NZ gay marriage commission formed: The Church of England Newspaper, March 3, 2013 p 7. March 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage.
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The Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has chartered a theological commission to study gay marriage.

Last week the committee directed the church’s provincial secretary the Rev. Michael Hughes to write to the secretaries of the three branches of the church asking them “to consider and report” on the question “what is a theological rationale for a Christian approach to the blessing and marriage of people in permanent, faithful same gender relationships given the implications thereof on the ordination of people in same gender relationships.”

The three branches: Maori, Pacific Islander and Europeans/Asians, were asked to name three scholars to the commission who were asked to report back to the Standing Committee by year’s end.

The theological commission’s work will also be used to inform the Commission on the Ordination and Blessing of People in Same Sex Relationships (Ma Whea Commission) formed in November 2011 that was asked to provide a “summary of the biblical and theological work done by our Church on the issues surrounding Christian ethics, human sexuality and the blessing and ordination of people in same sex relationships, including missiological, doctrinal, canonical, cultural and pastoral issues.”

The Ma Whae Commission was also charged with finding a way to overcome the veto power to changes in church doctrine granted to each of the three branches and examine “the principles of Anglican ecclesiology and, in light of our diversity, the ecclesial possibilities for ways forward for our Three Tikanga Church”, the implications of the adoption of same-sex blessings to the church’s relations to the wider Anglican Communion, and to address the issue of “what care and protection there would be for those who could be marginalized” by the changes.

The Ma Whae Commission has been asked to report its findings to the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui by 2014.

Probation for Episcopal Church’s Hip Hop Priest: Anglican Ink, February 9, 2013 February 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Crime, Hymnody/Liturgy, The Episcopal Church.
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A New Jersey court has sentenced the Episcopal Church’s “Hip-Hop” priest, the Rev. Timothy Holder, to two years’ probation for stealing more than $35,000 from his Atlantic City parish.

On 8 Feb 2013 Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson handed down the sentence to Mr. Holder (57) and ordered him to make restitution to his former parish, the Church of the Ascension. In December he pled guilty to third-degree theft by deception for writing checks on the church’s bank account while serving as rector between 2007 and 2009.

Before moving to the Church of the Ascension, Mr. Holder, who has been on administrative leave from his position as Associate Rector at Christ Church in Toms River, served as vicar of the South Bronx’s Trinity Episcopal Church of Morrisania, where he created the popular “Hip-Hop” services to serve the needs of the local community.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 30, February 29, 2012 February 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Hymnody/Liturgy, The Episcopal Church.
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Kevin and George bring you tragic news from the Diocese of Recife and the murder of Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam. They also recall their memories of Bishop Robinson and his ministry in Brazil and the Anglican Communion. Also this week is Archbishop Nzmibi’s health scare, Ashes-to-Go, and some behind the scene footage. This week our contributors Peter Ould, Dean Munday and AS Haley also bring their expertise to Salisbury shenanigans, Episcopal Ratios, and Article X. Please send your feedback to our mailbag at AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Anglican Unscripted, Aug 19, 2011 August 21, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Hymnody/Liturgy, Wicca/Druidism, Zimbabwe.
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Anglican Unscripted for August 19th, 2011 | AnglicanTV Ministries

http://anglican.tv/content/anglican-unscripted-august-19th-2011

This week’s Anglican Unscripted is our best yet. Kevin and George discuss our wicked church history from 499 years ago. They also discuss the latest news on the Anglican Liturgy and TECs hope in making changes to the sacrament of marriage.  Plus an exclusive on Zimbabwe.

Anglican Liturgical group rejects American push for gay blessings: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 17, 2011 p 5. August 18, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A push by the Episcopal Church to bring same-sex marriage into the theological mainstream was repulsed last week by delegates attending the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (IALC) in Canterbury.

The IALC was not persuaded by the theological or liturgical arguments—including a mock same-sex blessing ceremony–offered by the Episcopal Church delegation on the merits of same-sex blessings and declined to include the US’s views in its final report on marriage.

Gathered at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge 56 delegates representing 19 of the Anglican Communion’s provinces met from Aug 1-6 to continue work on “Rites Relating to Marriage: A Working Interim Document”.

According to a statement released on behalf of the IALC by the Anglican Communion News Service, the marriage studies examined the “theology of marriage,” the “cultural contexts of marriage,” and the “shape and elements of the ritual.”

The ACNS reported that “one session was set aside from the regular work of the IALC in response to a formal request from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church (USA) – TEC – so that representatives from that Standing Commission could hear from IALC members in response to that Province’s exploratory theological rationale and liturgical principles for the development of rites for the blessing of committed same gender relationships.”

Members of the IALC present at the meeting told The Church of England Newspaper the US delegation led by Prof. Ruth Meyers of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont offered a theological rationale for same-sex blessings and offered a sample of one rite, with two female members of the US delegation serving as the spouses.  After the ceremony the American team solicited comments from the gathered IALC, but asked for the return of the service leaflet as the rite remained a work in process and was not ready for publication.

While some members of the IALC, including its new chairman, Canadian-member the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, were generally supportive of the US view, the majority were not.  One participant told CEN the objections fell in two general groups: those who believed the concept of same-sex blessings was un-Biblical, and those who were perturbed by the “aggressive” push by the US team to seize control of a study process on rites for traditional marriage to include their own agenda.

The Bishop of Bolivia, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons explained the “theme of blessings for same sex partners was not in the purview of the IALC which is preparing a forthcoming study based upon marriage between a man and a woman.”

He added the current marriage rite project was an “an excellent work that raises important questions for local development of rites for marriage and also a range of other moments important to the sustaining of this estate.  It would be a shame to dismiss it out of hand based on misinformation,” he said in a statement given to CEN.

He noted that it was “impossible to deal with TEC’s theological rationale because they have already reached their conclusions on this and removed it from discussion a priori.  As there is no biblical warrant for it, only controversial discussion could take place in an Anglican setting anyway.  When the issue came up in plenary it was dealt with as cultural innovation, not a theological issue.”

“With the theological rationale dismissed, the task presented to the working group by TEC was to evaluate the rite as liturgy.  This elicited a mountain of criticism and important suggestions in various small groups, such as comments concerning the rite’s basic purpose and its structural presentation,” Bishop Lyons said.

The bishop told CEN it was “good to have the demonstration.  It clarified exactly what [the US was] doing and how they were going about it.”

“It needs to be clear that this was not an approval of what they were doing either,” he said, adding that “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck …so the close relationship to a marriage was not lost on anyone, despite protestations to the contrary.”

However, Prof. Meyers told CEN the “conversation about the work in TEC was separate from the overall focus of the Consultation. Hence the theological principles that are undergirding the work in TEC are not part of the IALC report on marriage.”

The Inter Anglican Liturgical Consultation is a “self-organising body within the Communion, interested in matters of liturgy,” a spokesman from the Anglican Consultative Council explained.

“As such it is akin to a network of the Communion in that while it reports to the Instruments and to the Standing Committee on occasion, it doesn’t receive a mandate from the Instruments, nor does it receive financial support. It appoints its own steering committee, and can invite whoever it wishes to participate in its conferences and meetings,” ACC spokesman Jan Butters said.

MP’s fear that Jerusalem will become a ‘gay’ hymn: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2011 p 3. May 26, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Marriage.
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Chris Bryant MP

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Government regulations on same-sex marriages will lock the hymn Jerusalem into a gay ghetto, a Labour MP told the House of Commons last week.  On May 19 the member for Rhondda, Mr. Chris Bryant, asked that time be set aside for a debate on the Government’s policy of singing Jerusalem at weddings.

In his question to the leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, Mr. Bryant said, “If a heterosexual couple get married in church, many clergy will refuse to allow it to be sung, because it is not a hymn addressed to God; if a straight couple get married in a civil wedding, they are point blank not allowed it, because it is a religious song; if, however, a gay couple have a civil partnership, under Government plans they will be allowed to sing it.”

A number of cathedrals and parish charges have banned Jerusalem as being xenophobic, nationalistic, and because the words written by William Black over 200 years ago do not praise God.

In 2008 the Very Rev Colin Slee, the late Dean of Southwark Cathedral, forbad its singing during a private memorial service.  A spokesman for the Cathedral explained, “The Dean of Southwark does not believe that it is to the glory of God and it is not therefore used in private memorial services.”

The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rev. Rev. Donald Allister, when serving as Vicar of Cheadle in 2001 refused to allow the hymn to be played at a parish wedding as it was a “nationalistic song that does not praise God,” while St Margaret’s Westminster had banned the hymn because the words “dark satanic mills” was discriminatory.

However, Jerusalem remains one of the most popular hymns in the Church of England and was played at the Royal Wedding on April 29.

In his speech to the House last week, Mr. Bryant asked the leader of the Commons for assurances that “Jerusalem is not just reserved for homosexuals?”

The Speaker of the House interjected “I want to hear the Leader’s reply!”

Sir George responded, “I think that Jerusalem should be sung on every possible occasion.”

US backing for communion without baptism: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2011 May 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, The Episcopal Church.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church’s national office has given a backhanded blessing to the practice of allowing those not baptized to receive Holy Communion—a practice forbidden by canon law.

Supporters of Communion without Baptism (CWOB) have argued that relaxing the church’s Eucharistic discipline will serve as a recruiting tool for those outside the faith.  However, traditionalists have rejected the practice as uncanonical and contrary to church teaching.

Last month the Episcopal Church Office of Congregational Vitality posted a video to the national church’s website highlighting the ministry of parish of St Paul & the Redeemer in Chicago.  The congregation “exemplifies transformative work,” the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, the Episcopal Church’s officer for congregational vitality, said, adding that the parish “sees its primary point of contact with the wider community through its Sunday morning experience. The worship becomes its witness to the world.”

“What we do is the Episcopal liturgy,” said parish rector the Rev. Peter Lane.  “We just do it in creative ways.”

St Paul & the Redeemer welcomes “everybody.  Orthodox believer or skeptic, gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor, everybody is invited to eat at God’s table” Mr. Lane said.

The video features a parishioner who relates his love of the “diversity” and “inclusion” of the Episcopal Church.  At his first visit to the congregation he received Holy Communion, and was led to join the church.  When his young son was baptized three years later, he also decided that it was time to become baptized.

A study released in 2005 by the Diocese of Northern California estimated that a majority of dioceses had congregations that practiced Communion without Baptism. (CWOB)  Of the church’s 110 dioceses, 48 responded to the Northern California survey: 24 reported they had parishes who practiced CWOB while a further 7 dioceses were reported to “probably allow CWOB.”

A spokesman for the national church told The Church of England Newspaper in response to the query about the video, “The canons of the Episcopal Church expect that baptism precede the receiving of Communion.  The Episcopal Church does not, however, inquire of each person coming to receive Communion if he or she has been baptized.  If a newcomer is discovered not to have been baptized, then the most appropriate response is to prepare and baptize that person, welcoming her or him into the body of Christ.”

Episcopal Church Canon I.17.7 is unambiguous.  It states “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.

“From the earliest centuries, it has been the universal practice of the Christian Church that one must first be baptized before being admitted to Holy Communion,” Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker told CEN.

The issue is one of canon law, Prayer Book rubrics and Scripture, the Anglo-Catholic leader said.

In Romans 6:3-11 “St. Paul explains that the unbaptized remain under the dominion of sin and death and have not been reconciled to God by faith in the saving death of Jesus Christ.  Thus they are not eligible to receive the benefits of Holy Communion,” Bishop Iker explained.

“The unbroken tradition and practice of orthodox believers is clear: first baptism, then communion – not the other way around,” he said.

Canadian ‘no’ to communion without baptism: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2011 p 7. May 4, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada has rejected calls to permit those not baptized to be allowed to receive the “sacrament of the holy Eucharist.”

At the close of their April 11-15 meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario the bishops reaffirmed the church’s canons and traditional practice stating only those baptized would be permitted to receive.  “We do not see this as changing for the foreseeable future,” the bishops said.

The bishops’ debate follows a March 7 “Guest Reflection” published in Canada’s Anglican Journal by Dr. Gary Nicolosi who argued for a relaxation in the church’s Eucharistic discipline as a way of attracting more people to church.

“How, in our multicultural and pluralistic society, can our churches be places of hospitality if we exclude table fellowship with the non-baptized,” Dr. Nicolosi asked.

“Open communion increasingly is seen as a way to build a bridge between the church and the unchurched. If people are ‘spiritual but not religious’ as several sociological studies indicate, then the desire for transcendence experienced in sacramental worship may well draw them to church,” he argued.

He added that “open communion played a major part in the rapid growth of my parish in Southern California. I saw the same scenario repeated many times—non-Christians receiving Holy Communion and experiencing God in a powerful way, leading to a desire to be baptized. Therefore, I ask: might we not see the experience of receiving communion as a way of drawing people to faith in Jesus?”

The bishops were not convinced by this argument, however, but acknowledged that an “open table” or “open communion” was practised in some parts of the Canadian church.  This deviation from canons and customs “arises out of a deep concern to express Christian hospitality,” they noted.  However guidance on “Christian hospitality and mission and how these relate to the Table of Christ” would be given to the church following the bishop’s October meeting in Halifax.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Archbishop Fred Hiltz stated the bishops were cognizant of the potential of the sacrament of Eucharist for leading some unchurched people to baptism. “No one is dismissing that, but at the same time, a good pastoral coach can help people understand how baptism and the Eucharist complement each other.”

In the Episcopal Church the practise of open communion is more widespread, though it is also forbidden by canon law.  A study conducted released in 2005 by the Diocese of Northern California, which had advocated allowing open communion, estimated that a majority of dioceses had congregations that permitted open communion.

Of the church’s 110 dioceses, 48 responded to the Northern California survey.  Of those 24, reported they had parishes who practice open communion, or communion without baptism (CWOB) while a further 7 dioceses were reported to “probably allow CWOB.”

Concordat on baptism signed in Spain: The Church of England Newspaper, March 4, 2011 p 7. March 7, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Carlos López Lozano

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Roman Catholic and Anglican churches in Spain have signed a concordat recognizing the validity of baptisms performed in both churches. However, the two churches have agreed to disagree over what happens at baptism and what it means.

On Feb 23 the president of Spanish Roman Catholic Episcopal Conference’s ecumenical relations department, Bishop Adolfo González Montes of Almeria, and Bishop Carlos López Lozano of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain signed the agreement—a product of over 30 years of ecumenical dialogue—at a ceremony in Madrid.

The recognition by the Roman Catholic Church of baptisms performed in the Episcopal Church marks no new theological ground and is akin to agreements reached in other countries, but is a milestone for Protestant-Catholic relations in Spain.

Protestantism was effectively outlawed in Spain until the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1868, which granted religious toleration to non-Catholics.  Under the Franco regime, religious liberties for Spaniards were restricted—though churches for expatriates were not as closely supervised.  In 1968 Spain adopted its Law of Religious Freedom and following the death of Franco the Constitution of 1978 provided full religious liberty to non-Catholics.

However, the Spanish government has continued to favor the Catholic Church over other denominations and recent sects, and the Catholic Church has vigorously defended its historic privileges.

The Spanish declaration recognizes “with gratitude our common faith in God our Father, in our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit, and our common baptism in the one Church of God.”

However, the agreement does not end disagreements over the nature and efficacy of baptism.  Differences remain over the “recognition of the sacramentalism of baptism and its valid administration,” the document said.

Wee Frees are singing: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 26, 2010 p 6. November 30, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Presbyterian/Church of Scotland.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The sound you may hear from a Wee Free chapel might just be singing.  After 147 years, the Free Church of Scotland, the “Wee Frees” have relaxed their ban on musical instruments and hymn singing.

On Nov 19 following two days of what was described by the church as “harmonious” debate, a special synod of the Free Church of Scotland voted 98-84 to allow individual congregations to decide whether to permit the liberty of using music in worship services.

Formed in 1847 following the secession of evangelicals from the Church of Scotland over what they saw as the state’s encroachment on their spiritual independence, the majority of the Free Church returned to the Church of Scotland in the last century.  However, a dissenting group based in the Highlands and the Western Isles remained outside and continues the name and polity of the Free Church.

The church’s canons had called for the “avoidance of uninspired materials of praise and musical instruments” in worship, leading the Wee Frees to focus their musical efforts on Psalm singing, as the Psalms, being part of the Scriptures, were inspired, while modern hymns were not.

In 2005 the moderator of the Free Church, the Rev. Donald Smith, opened debate over relaxing the ban, and a motion was brought to the 2010 synod by the church’s Board of Trustees to confirm its ban on music.  However, the motion was opposed by moderates within the church led by the Rev. Alex Macdonald who urged adoption of a “local option” on hymn singing.

The General Assembly resolved that “purity of worship requires that every aspect of worship services, including sung praise, be consistent with the Word of God and with the whole doctrine of the Confession of Faith approved by previous Assemblies of this Church.”

Each Kirk Session was given the “freedom, either to restrict the sung praise to the Psalms, or to include paraphrases of Scripture, and hymns and spiritual songs consistent with the doctrine of the Confession of Faith; that each Kirk Session shall have freedom whether to permit musical accompaniment to the sung praise in worship, or not.”

However, hymn singing could not be imposed upon a congregation without the approval of its minister.  While the majority concluded that music could be used in worship to glorify God, the General Assembly recognized the “divisive nature of the issue” and affirmed its “commitment to unity and urge[d] officebearers and members to find ways of continuing in unity after the Assembly.”

The debate over hymnody in the Free Church of Scotland has followed the same path as the Nineteenth century debate over music at worship in the Church of England.  Modern hymnody was introduced by Evangelicals by the close of the Eighteenth century, who cited its utility.  High churchmen opposed the innovation, saying a warrant for hymn singing could not be found in the Book of Common Prayer or Scripture.

In 1819 the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Sheffield, the Rev. Richard Cotterill, published “A Selection of Psalms and Hymns” adapted for use in the Church of England.  The evangelical Mr. Cotterill was brought before the Archbishop of York’s Consistory Court upon charges of violating the rubrics of the Prayer Book for using hymns in worship.  The chancellor found Mr. Cotterill guilty, ruling that hymn singing was irregular.  However the court declined to impose costs and suspended the imposition of a sentence, citing the benefits of hymn singing.

The issue was resolved by Mr. Cotterill withdrawing his hymnal, and publishing a new less Evangelical edition that contained the imprimatur of the Archbishop of York. The court’s decision gave tacit permission for hymn singing, which was not formally approved for use in worship until 1872.

Scottish Episcopal Church defends inclusive language liturgies: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 10, 2010 p 4. September 16, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has denied charges that its use of gender neutral language in its revisions to the 1982 Eucharistic liturgy marks a change in the church’s view on the nature of God.  Inclusive language, the church said on Sept 6, merely reflected current speech patterns, and implied no theological changes.

On Aug 21 The Church of England Newspaper first reported the Scottish Episcopal Church’s College of Bishops had approved inclusive language prayers, authorising optional changes that remove “Lord”, “He”, “his”, “him”, and “us men” from its 1982 Eucharistic Liturgy.

The Daily Telegraph on Sept 6 reported that traditionalists had criticised the changes “on the grounds that they smack of political correctness and because they believe they are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.”

In noted the “controversial changes were discussed at the church’s General Synod recently. The minutes of the synod reveal that female priests had asked why God was still referred to as a man.”

The Scottish Episcopal Church this week released a statement clarifying its actions stating the permitted changes to the 1982 Eucharist had not “altered the Church’s understanding of God.”

It further stated that changes such as “God is love and we are his children” found in the Confession and Absolution to “God is love and we are God’s children” were drafted “in a way that reflects everyday speech and writing.”

Times have changed, the SEC said, and since the 1982 liturgy was drafted “conventions have changed concerning the use of words which express gender, and the Church is merely seeking to reflect these in its worship. No change in our understanding of God is taking place.”

Scottish inclusive language liturgies are ugly and teach bad doctrine, critics charge: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 20, 2010 p 5. August 21, 2010

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The Rev Prof Stuart G Hall

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s College of Bishops has approved inclusive language prayers, authorising optional changes that remove “Lord”, “He”, “his”, “him”, and “us men” from its 1982 Eucharistic Liturgy.

On Aug 2, the SEC published a list of seven permitted changes.  Spokesman Lorna Finley said the changes were offered by the College of Bishops as an “interim measure” as the General Synod Liturgy Committee prepares new Eucharist rites.

The permitted changes include altering “God is love and we are his children” in the Confession and Absolution to “God is love and we are God’s children.”

In the Gloria the phrase “and peace to his people on earth” becomes “and peace to God’s people on earth;” the Nicene Creed is revised with the phrase “for us men and our salvation” making way “for us and for our salvation;” while the opening responses in the Eucharist Prayer change “it is right to give him thanks and praise” to “it is right to give God thanks and praise.”

The Christological Prayer in Eucharistic Prayer IV changes from “He renewed the promise of his presence” to “Your son, Jesus Christ, renewed the promise of his presence.”  Eucharistic Prayer V allows revisions to the phrase “Give thanks to the Lord for he is gracious, And his mercy endures forever,” with “Give thanks to our gracious God, whose mercy endures forever;” and substitution of the phrase “which is your will for all mankind” with “which is your will for all the world.”

Ms. Finley said the revisions incorporate changes suggested by the clergy after a questionnaire was distributed in 2007.  “The use of inclusive language was one of the key comments arising from this questionnaire,” she noted, adding the permitted changes prepared by the Liturgy Committee in consultation with the Faith & Order Board of General Synod and the College of Bishops “help bring our common texts in to line with the English Language Liturgical Consultation recommendations.”

However, the Rev. Stuart Hall of the Scottish Prayer Book Society on Aug 5 urged the Primus and College of Bishops to rethink the revisions as “some of the tinkering” to the liturgy “are going to do some incidental damage.”

Dr. Hall, Professor Emeritus of Ecclesiastical History at Kings’s College London and Honorary Professor of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews stated he believed there were problems of doctrine and aesthetics with the new liturgy.

The revisions “disturbed” the liturgy’s musical settings and upset the rhythm of the verses.  The “compilers and revisers of the 1982 [Liturgy] have from the start been culpably indifferent to music,” he observed.

“The absurd thing is that the whole difficulty, if such there be, could be avoided with reference to all the ancient originals from which the Eucharistic dialogue was translated,” Dr. Hall said.

The Latin Dignum et iustum est or Greek axion kai dikaion is translated in the Book of Common Prayer as “It is meet and right so to do,” he said, asking “Why could our translators not have avoided the whole issue of God’s sex and stuck with ‘It is proper and right,’ or preserving the rhythms of the original Greek and Latin, ‘Proper it is, and right’.”

Changing the words of the Nicene Creed was problematic, he said.  “On principle, liturgy-writers should not tamper with the text of ecumenical creeds,” and omitting ‘men’ has doctrinal consequences, he said.

The Greek words tous anthropous in the creed uses ‘men’ in the sense of all humanity.  “If you leave it out, the reference might be taken to mean us Christians, or even us Episcopalians,” Dr. Hall said, adding that Hooker had to defend the phrase ‘that it may please thee to have mercy upon all men’ in the Litany “against dissenting critics who thought we should pray only for the Elect, not for everybody.”

In the original Creeds, the same word anthropos is applied to the incarnation of Jesus Christ, who is not just enfleshed, ‘incarnate of the Virgin Mary’, but puts on total thinking humanity, enenthropesen, ‘made man’, Dr. Hall explained.  “So there is a balance: for us humans … he became human.  And his fleshly humanity is entirely derived from the Virgin Mary: her manhood becomes his. If ‘men’ applied to ‘us’ excludes women, then Christ is said not to have become human, but to have become male.”

Prudence Dailey of the Church of England’s Prayer Book Society told CEN she was “sorry” the SEC “felt the need to be squeamish” about gender specific language in relation to God.

“I would hope that the authorised liturgies of the Church of England will never go that far down that particular path. The Prayer Book Society would not wish worshipers to be encouraged to feel uncomfortable with the traditional usage of masculine pronouns, as found in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662,” she said.

West Indies ditches Hymns Ancient & Modern for Reggae: CEN 1.29.10 p 8. February 9, 2010

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The West Indies will discontinue Hymns Ancient and Modern as the official hymnal of the Anglican Church in the Caribbean.

The Archbishop of the West Indies, Dr. John Holder of Barbados said the province was retiring Hymns Ancient and Modern in favor of a locally produced hymnal that was incorporated regional music including reggae. However, he said a number of traditional hymns would be incorporated in the new edition.

Since the release of the first edition in 1861, an estimated 165 million copies of Hymns Ancient and Modern have been sold. With the decision to discontinue its use by the West Indies, Hong Kong remains the only province of the Anglican Communion to use the 1922 standard edition. In 1980 a new hymnal Common Praise, was released by its publishers for use by the Church of England to replace the 1983 new standard edition of the hymnal.

In 2007 the province released a draft hymnal with works by Bob Marley’s “One Love” and a reggae version of Psalm 27 composed by Peter Tosh.

West Indian congregations had been having unofficially using reggae, calypso and mento (a precursor of ska and reggae popular in the 1950’s) music for over 25 years. The compilers of the new hymnal were careful to use “correct theology” in its selection of popular local music, Canon Ernle Gordon of Kingston told the Jamaica Observer, making “certain that the words relate to the Bible and to our own Anglican interpretation of it.”

‘Common sense’ urged over chalice: CEN 8.28.09 p 5. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged calm and common sense in the wake of fears of infection of the H1N1 ‘swine’ flu from a common chalice at communion.

On Aug 20 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reported that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York “recommended the suspension of the sharing of the chalice at communion” upon the advice of the government not to “share ‘common vessels’ for food and drink.”

The Archbishops’ July 22 letter to the English bishops recommended suspension of the “administration of the chalice” during the flu pandemic, citing clause 8 of the 1547 Sacrament Act, which allowed administration of communion in one kind in times of plague or “except necessity otherwise require.”

“For those who still wish to offer in both kinds,” the archbishops wrote, “we recommend the practice” of priestly intinction of the bread in the chalice “before placing them in the hands of communicants.”

In South Africa, the clergy should “observe prudence in maintaining good hygiene and in taking care to reduce exposure to infection,” Archbishop Makgoba said, noting that six people had died so far in the epidemic.

While all “life is sacred and we regret the loss of this precious life,” the archbishop wrote “we should not panic, but rather be prudent about our health.

“If you are not well, it makes sense to behave as you would with any of the other strains of flu that we experience each year,” he said, and “take care not to expose others needlessly to the virus.”

Intinction, the practice of dipping the wafer or bread in the chalice, is practiced by Anglicans in Africa, the West Indies and North America. In the West Indies the priest commonly instincts the wafer and places it directly in the mouth of the communicant in the Roman Catholic fashion. Intinction was authorized by the Episcopal Church during the global influenza epidemic of 1920 and has developed in different ways, with some churches practicing priestly intinction, while in other churches the communicant receives the wafer in his hand and intincts or dips it in a chalice held before him.

A paper released by the Anglican Church of Canada on “Eucharistic practice and risk of infection” however, notes that “modes of intinction used in parishes do not diminish the threat of infection, and some may actually increase it.”

“Hands, children’s and adult’s, are at least as likely to be a source of infection (often more so) as lips,” Dr. David Gould wrote on behalf of the Canadian Church. “Retention of the wafer in the hand of the recipient then intincting it means that the wafer, now contaminated by the hand of the recipient, is placed in the wine, thus spreading the infection to it,” he noted.

“If a priest retains the wafer, intincts it, and places it on the tongue of the communicant there is the possibility of his/her hand coming in contact with the tongue, and thereafter spreading the contamination. Meticulous technique would avoid this however, and it would seem better to trust in the technique of one individual (the priest) than in the individual techniques of the communicants should they do the intinction themselves,” he noted.

“Communion in only one kind (the bread) is the best option for those fearful of the cup,” Dr. Gould wrote, but the “present use of the common cup is normative for Anglican churches, and poses no real hazard to health in normal circumstances.”

Bishops Say No to Adding List of Matriarchs: TLC 7.16.09 July 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Hymnody/Liturgy, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The House of Bishops has rejected a resolution calling for the inclusion of a list of matriarchs of Israel for use in a trial revision of Eucharist Prayer C of Rite II of the Book of Common Prayer. The action took place at the General Convention July 17 in Anaheim, Calif.

Offered as a trial rite by its backers for use by the church until the publication of the next Book of Common Prayer, Resolution C077 sought to replace “patriarchal” language with an inclusive lineage, substituting “Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” with “Lord God of our ancestors; God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, [God of _____.]”

On behalf of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith of Missouri recommended the house reject the changes.

The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner of Northern California supported the change, and sought to preserve the bill by referring it to a committee for further study. He said in his diocese Prayer C was a “popular prayer,” yet it was also “problematic.” The “tinkering that goes on with it” in parish use was evidence the language needed to be reformed.

The Bishop of Milwaukee, the Rt. Rev. Steven Miller, said the addition of names to the prayers could be overdone. “I rise in honor of Bilhah and Zilpah,” he quipped. Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid and bore Jacob two sons, Dan and Naphtali, while Zilpah was Leah’s handmaid and mother of Gad and Asher.

“All art reflects its time and place,” Bishop Miller said. He added that Eucharist Prayer C was now seen as a relic of the 1970s and the “most dated” of the liturgies. He urged retention of the traditional phrasing of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, noting that it was “code language” in “our liturgical life.”

However, the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, the Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, urged further study of Prayer C. “Some in our diocese refer to this as the Star Wars liturgy,” — a reference to the passage “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.”

Yet others “honor creation and diversity” through its language, he said. Adding the matriarchs to the patriarchs adds to the “richness” of our worshiping life, he argued, reminding the bishops that its language had value for portions of the church.

Following further brief discussion, the resolution was put to a vote and rejected.

Canadian diocese to go ahead with gay blessings: CEN 3.13.09 p 5. March 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Rt. Rev. Michael Bird, Bishop of Niagara

The Rt. Rev. Michael Bird, Bishop of Niagara

The Bishop of Niagara has informed the Archbishop of Canterbury that his south central Ontario diocese will begin blessing same-sex unions.

Writing in the March issue of his diocesan newspaper, the Rt. Rev. Michael Bird said that in January he met with Dr. Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace to brief the archbishop on the work that diocese had undertaken on creating sacramental rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and that it was his intention to authorize gay blessings.

Bishop Bird wrote that he had related Niagara’s “experience of the incredible contribution that gay and lesbian people have made and continue to make in every aspect of our church’s life and witness, and expressed the overwhelming desire on the part of two synods to move forward with the blessings of committed same-sex relationships for couples who have been civilly married.”

He wrote that he told Dr. Williams the diocese’s call to “prophetic justice-making has made us even more determined to become a more open and inclusive church” and break the Canadian House of Bishops and Lambeth moratorium on the introduction of gay blessings.

On Nov 8, Bishop Bird told his diocesan synod that he intended to ask “for a rite to be developed for the blessing of same-sex couples who have been civilly married, along with a process to enable these blessings to take place that will at the same time honour the diversity of tradition and theology that exists across Niagara.”

At its 2007 meeting, by a vote of 239-53 the Niagara synod asked the bishop to allow those clergy “whose conscience permits” to bless gay marriages. However, in Oct 2008 the Canadian House of Bishops called for a stay of liturgical experimentation for gay weddings. Canada’s General Synod would take up the issue in 2010, the bishops said.

Dr. Williams’ response was less then fulsome. Bishop Bird wrote the archbishop had thanked him “for such a full and detailed report and he indicated how important this opportunity was for him to hear from me personally.”

The March edition of the Diocese of Ottawa’s newspaper Crosstalk also announced plans for blessing same-sex unions. The Bishop of Ottawa, the Rt. Rev. John Chapman, announced that a committee had been formed to address the question of same-sex blessings.

If the committee reports back favourably on the innovation “in the spirit of experiential discernment,” he said he planned on permitting St. John the Evangelist Church in Ottawa to begin the blessings. However, “this is as far as I am prepared to move on the matter until General Synod 2010,” he wrote.

The Rev. Ephraim Radner, Dean of Wycliffe College in Toronto, told the National Post the decisions to authorize the blessings was “provocative and hostile.”

A member of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, Dr. Radner said these actions served to make “much worse by ratcheting up the antagonisms,” further dividing the church.

Nigeria hails ‘signs and wonders’ ministry: CEN 2.27.09 p 6 February 28, 2009

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The Most Rev Ephraim Ademowo, Archbishop of Lagos

The Most Rev Ephraim Ademowo, Archbishop of Lagos

“Signs and wonders” should become the mark of the Anglican Church in Africa, the Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Ephraim Ademowo said last month at service marking the collation of two archdeacons.

He urged a “return to apostolic tradition practiced in the early church characterized by miracles, signs and wonders;” saying it should become “the new direction of the Anglican Church today.”

The Anglican Communion’s largest church with an estimated 18,000,000 active members, the Church of Nigeria has been challenged by the equally fast growing Pentecostal churches of West Africa. In recent decades it has taken on board many of the elements of the charismatic renewal movement as well embarking on a programme of African enculturation, drawing upon African resources for liturgical renewal.

One of the pillars of the Gafcon movement for the reform and renewal of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria’s cultivation of charismatic gifts, critics charge, will lead to splits with Gafcon’s Anglo-Catholic and conservative Evangelical wings.

Drawing upon the Reformers, signs and wonders, or modern day miracles, have been viewed with suspicion within traditional Anglican circles. In his Institutes, John Calvin wrote, “Those miraculous powers and manifest workings which were dispensed by the laying on of hands, have ceased; and they have rightly lasted only for a time.”

Martin Luther viewed claims to signs and wonders with skepticism, writing in his Sermons of the Gospel of St John that modern claims of the miraculous were “tom foolery” of the devil devised for “chasing people hither and yon.”

Dr. Mark Thompson, Dean of Moore College in Sydney told The Church of England Newspaper that he believed that the “signs and wonders” mentioned in the New Testament were “part of the apostolic era.” The “great sign of the Spirit’s work today is faith, given and nourished as the word of God is heard.”

Too great a reliance upon “signs and wonders,” Dr. Thompson feared, could lead to “a lack of confidence that the word of God has transforming power.”

While there appears a wide distance on the question of miracles between the evangelicals of Sydney and Lagos, both sides tell CEN the discussion begins with Scripture.

In his sermon, Dr. Ademowo sought to differentiate an Anglican approach to modern miracles from the Pentecostal churches by commanding the new archdeacons to put their whole trust first in the Bible. By solely relying on the word of God and not the temptation of private revelations, the new archdeacons would be protected from error.

“Be disciplined and cling to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and your charisma as a pastor, prophet and teacher will be enhanced for effective ministration,” Dr. Ademowo told the new archdeacons.

Toronto’pastoral’ same-sex blessings: CEN 2.06.09 p 6. February 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Diocese of Toronto has agreed to allow pastoral services of prayer and blessing for same-sex couples, but will not authorize sacramental rites for the blessing of same-sex unions or gay marriages.

At a Jan 29 diocesan council meeting, Bishop Colin Johnson announced that a year-long consultation process conformed to the Canadian House of Bishops’ 2007 statement committing the church to “develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church.” The policy stops short, however of authorizing formal rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

The proposal put forth by Bishop Johnson and his four episcopal assistants stated that the bishops would give permission to a “to a limited number of parishes, based on episcopal discernment, to offer prayers and blessing (but not the nuptial blessing) to same-sex couples in stable, long-term, committed relationships.”

Congregations seeking to implement the pastoral blessings would need to receive the prior authorization of the bishop, and a “particular rite will not be authorized.”

According to a report printed in the Toronto diocesan newspaper, the decision to authorize services for same-sex couples was a pastoral response to the needs of a particular constituency, and would not be brought before the diocesan synod for legislative action.

He said the diocese was “committed to remaining in alignment with the decisions and recommendations of General Synod and Lambeth,” and that “at the same time, we are trying to act in accordance with the House of Bishops’ statement to develop the most generous pastoral response to our local situation. Given that, we think that a pastoral response and not a legislative one is the correct way to move forward.”

“There is no result that will fully satisfy those on all sides,” Bishop Johnson was quoted as saying by his diocesan newspaper. “But at the moment this is what we, as bishops, feel is the right thing to do.”

In an open letter to the Toronto bishops, the Dean of Wycliffe College in Toronto, the Rev. Ephraim Radner said the distinction drawn by the diocese between pastoral and sacramental blessings was too fine.

“It is hard to escape the fact that the process you have now set in motion-one that involves public proposals, discussions, synodical actions, and all dealing with a way of ordering a particular ‘pastoral response’ that involves episcopal oversight and particular permissions, following directives that involve the nature of prayers – cannot avoid being seen as one of ecclesial ‘authorization’ of liturgical matters surrounding same-sex unions,” he said.

Dr. Radner, one of the leaders of the Anglican Communion Institute, and a member of Anglican Covenant Design Group, said the new policy ran contrary to the wider mind of the Communion. While the bishops may have believed they were only giving a structure to a an arrangement for “private prayers”, the “very process you are following” calls for “formal, episcopal, diocesan, public, liturgical prayers of blessing.”

It would be “very difficult indeed to make the case and persuade others” that what Toronto had now done violated the Lambeth Conference moratorium and had in opposition to the “concerns of many Anglicans around the world.”

Niagara Diocese to proceed with gay blessings: CEN 11.14.08 p 6 November 19, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Diocese of Niagara will go ahead with the blessing of gay civil marriages, the Rt Rev Michael Bird wrote to his diocese on the eve of its Nov 7-8 synod in Hamilton, Ontario.

Citing similar decisions taken by the dioceses of Montreal and Ottawa last month, Bishop Bird said he believed the diocese were “among those who have been called by God to speak with a prophetic voice on this subject.

“I, therefore, intend to ask for a rite to be developed for the blessing of same-sex couples who have been civilly married, along with a process to enable these blessings to take place that will at the same time honour the diversity of tradition and theology that exists across Niagara,” he said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Niagara Diocese to proceed with gay blessings

Prince Charles ‘will not amend Coronation Oath’: CEN 11.16.08 November 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Politics.
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Claims that Prince Charles will amend the coronation oath to become “Defender of Faith,” as opposed to the “Defender of the Faith” are unfounded, a spokesman for the Prince of Wales tells ReligiousIntelligence.com.

On Nov 13 the Daily Telegraph reported that a senior source said “there have been lots of discussions” of altering the oath to make it multi-faith. Prince Charles “would like to be known as the Defender of Faith which is a subtle but hugely symbolic shift,” the source told the Telegraph.

However, the Prince of Wales’ press spokesman told us there were no plans to alter the oath to accommodate multi-cultural sensitivities. Nor does Prince Charles have the authority under law to amend the oath.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s ReligiousIntelligence.com

Prince Charles 'will not amend Coronation Oath'

Montreal to press ahead with same-sex blessing services: CEN 11.07.08 p 7. November 6, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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barry-clarkeThe Diocese of Montreal will press on with the creation of rites for blessing gay civil marriages, Bishop Barry Clarke announced last week. The decision puts Montreal at odds with the majority of the Canadian House of Bishops which last week issued a call for its members to honour the Lambeth Conference season of “gracious restraint” and refrain from authorizing the rites.

On Oct 31 the Canadian bishops released a statement acknowledging they were divided over the implementation of the Lambeth Conference call for a temporary ban on gay bishops and blessings. Archbishop Fred Hiltz had urged the bishops to back his “call for respect for due process” and not take action until after the 2010 General Synod had addressed the issue..

The 2007 Synod had asked the Primate’s Theological Commission to “determine if this matter of blessings is a Spirit-led development of doctrine,” he said. Acting now to authorize same-sex blessings would “have a significant impact on discussion at General Synod in 2010 and on the subsequent authority of dioceses through due synodical process to proceed with blessings.”

In their closing statement the bishops said that a “large majority” had affirmed “to the greatest extent possible” the ban on “the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships and on cross-border interventions — until General Synod 2010.”

The full House of Bishops had further affirmed their “commitment to establishing diocesan commissions to discuss the matter of same-sex blessings” in the run up to the 2010 General Synod.

However, Bishop Clarke told the Montreal Gazette on Oct 31 he would go ahead with plans for creating a diocesan “protocol and a liturgy implementing the blessing of same-sex unions.” At the Oct 24 meeting of the Montreal Synod, Bishop Clarke said the diocese had been “called by God to speak with a prophetic voice,” on gay blessings, for “it is our voice that is called to affirm that all people are loved, valued and precious before God and the Church.”

Niagara Bishop Michael Bird wrote his diocese on Nov 2 that he too had had been profoundly disappointed by the House of Bishops’ statement. The statement failed to honour the “faithfulness that the Diocese of Niagara has brought to this particular issue,” he said.

“I do not believe it honours the faithfulness we have offered to the Anglican Church of Canada. I do not believe that it honours God’s Mission for the Diocese of Niagara as we have discerned it,” Bishop Bird said.

He added that he would be making a “more formal statement on this subject and the direction I believe the Diocese is now called to undertake in a few days time.”

Ottawa Bishop John Chapman also told his diocese synod on Oct 23 that he would also seek permission from the House of Bishops to authorize same-sex blessings. “I hope to proceed, but slowly and cautiously” with gay blessings the bishop said, following consultation with the Canadian bishops at their Oct 27-31 meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham told The Church of England Newspaper there had been “little discussion” at the House of Bishops meeting of the situation in his diocese, which authorized eight parishes to perform same-sex blessings in 2002. “More attention was given to the dioceses of Ottawa, Montreal and Niagara which are now more front and centre in the matter.”

The Oct 31 bishops’ statement was not a roll back on gay blessings for the Canadian Church, Bishop Ingham said, as the House of Bishops does “not have authority in our church to ‘roll back’ anything, except its own decisions and statements.”

The House of Bishops was not a juridical or legislative body, but a “fellowship, and meets for consultation and mutual prayer. Much of the discussion this week – as for many years – has been on how the House should exercise leadership while at the same time respecting the authority of synods and the decisions that have already been made by them,” he explained.

New Westminster’s synod does not meet until May, he added. “By then the Windsor Continuation Group will have had opportunity for further reflection on the feedback at Lambeth and may issue a further report; there will also be another edition of the Anglican Covenant; the Primates will have met in Egypt, and the ACC in Jamaica. Our diocese will be in a better position after all that to consider deeply what the Communion is saying, and what the mission of Christ here in our local context demands.”

Montreal starts work on gay marriage services: CEN 10.31.08 p 6. November 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Diocese of Montreal will take “an incremental step forward” and start preparing rites for the blessing of gay civil marriages, Bishop Barry Clarke told his diocesan synod on Oct 24. Bishop Clarke’s call comes as part of a wider move by American and Canadian dioceses to support gay marriages and civil unions.

Montreal had been “called by God to speak with a prophetic voice,” on gay blessings, Bishop Clarke said, explaining that “it is our voice that is called to affirm that all people are loved, valued and precious before God and the Church. It is our voice that is called to affirm that all unions of faithful love and life-long commitment are worthy of God’s blessing and a means of God’s grace. In time our voice will either be affirmed by the body, or stand corrected.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Montreal diocese begins steps towards blessing gay civil uni

Sydney allows deacons to administer Communion, on a point of grammar: CEN 10.31.08 p 5. October 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Diocese of Sydney’s Synod has reaffirmed its longstanding support for diaconal administration of Holy Communion.

However, the adoption of Resolution 7.2 “Lay and diaconal administration” leaves the diocesan canons intact and creates no new laws: the licensing of Eucharistic ministers remains in the hands of Sydney’s Archbishop, Dr. Peter Jensen. The Synod vote affirmed the legal principal enacted last year by the Anglican Church of Australia’s highest court, which held that the language of a canon, not the legislative intent in its creation, provides its meaning.

The plain meaning of the current canons of the Australian Church already provide for diaconal celebration, Synod concluded—however, the ban on lay celebration remains in effect.

The Oct 21 vote is the latest step in a 25 year push for lay and diaconal presidency in Sydney. Adopted by an overwhelming majority, Resolution 7.2 accepted a report on the current state of canon law on diaconal and lay presidency prepared by a committee led by North Sydney Bishop Glenn Davies; affirmed Synod’s “conviction that lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture” and affirmed that the “Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters.”

In presenting the resolution for consideration Bishop Davies said it would not “make law or change law” but would “merely express” Synod’s view on this issue.

Legal authority already existed for deacons to celebrate the Eucharist, Bishop Davies’ committee report argued. In 1997, the church’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal, ruled that deacons or lay people could administer Holy Communion so long as General Synod authorized the practice.

The Davies committee concluded that the Ordination Service for Deacons Canon passed by General Synod in 1985 and subsequently adopted by all of Australia’s dioceses gave this permission.

In the reformed 1985 Ordinal, bishops charge deacons to be “be faithful in prayer, and take your place with bishop, priest and people in public worship and at the administration of the sacraments.”

In his question to the diaconal candidates for ordination, the bishop asks “Will you take your part in reading the Holy Scriptures in the church, in teaching the doctrine of Christ, and in administering the sacraments?”

And in his authorization of the new deacon the bishop states, “receive this sign of your authority to proclaim God’s word and to assist in the administration of his holy sacraments.”

These three portions of the 1985 ordination service “expressly authorizes the deacon to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments,” the committee said. The immediate effect of the 1985 ordinal change had been to permit deacons to baptize and preach without recourse to prior permission from their bishop. The word “assistance equally applies to Holy Communion as it applies to baptism; and there is no dispute that a deacon can administer baptism in its entirety,” the Davies paper said.

“It is therefore competent for the Archbishop of Sydney to license a deacon to assist the priest in the administration of Holy Communion as well as baptism, if the deacon has been ordained in accordance with the schedule of the 1985 Canon,” the Davies committee concluded.

Given this interpretation of the canons Bishop Davies told Synod, there is “nothing the Archbishop can do to prevent a deacon administering the Lord’s Supper”.

However, “it would require a bishop’s license” for a lay person to administer Communion, he said. And Dr. Jensen “will not license a lay person at this time.”

The question of lay and diaconal presidency at the Eucharist has been a topic of debate for over a generation, with the first committee chartered to examine the issue in 1983.

A report prepared by a committee led by Bishop Paul Barnett in 1993 concluded there “are no sound doctrinal objections to, and there are significant doctrinal reasons for, lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper. There are also sound reasons based on our received Anglican order for allowing lay presidency.”

The Barnett committee concluded that “prohibition of lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper does not seem justifiable theologically.”

On Oct 19, 1999 Sydney adopted an Ordinance permitting diaconal and lay presidency at the Eucharist, by a vote of 122 to 66 amongst the clergy, and 224 to 128 amongst the laity.

However, the following day the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Keith Rayner, urged Sydney Archbishop Harry Goodhew to withhold his assent writing the vote represented a “fundamental break with catholic order” which would place the diocese at odds with the “constitution and canons of our church.”

On Nov 10, 1999 Archbishop Goodhew declined to give his assent as approving lay presidency would have ramifications for Sydney and the wider Anglican Communion. Archbishop Goodhew wrote that following the 1998 Lambeth Conference, he had joined other church leaders working to block “unilateral action over crucial moral issues and attendant theological norms. To act unilaterally myself and without wide consultation would undermine my credibility in those ongoing debates,” he said.

Mindful that “Synod has delivered a clear verdict” in favor of lay presidency, Archbishop Goodhew said he was inclined not to support the Ordinance in light of the tribunal’s ruling. He had to consider his “constitutional responsibilities” to the wider church, he said, adding that “as a bishop I have both the right and the duty to accept the opinion of the body established by this Church for giving an opinion on such an issue. This opinion cannot be taken lightly.”

Following his election as Archbishop in 2001, in his Presidential Address to Synod Dr. Jensen said, “Lay administration, should it be legal, would be a contribution to the common task of bringing the gospel to Australia,” adding that “it is strange not to allow for this ministry in an ordered way.”

In 2003 the Sydney Synod began the legal steps to clear the path for diaconal administration, rescinding Section 10 of the 1662 Act of Uniformity as it applied to the diocese. A vestige of the diocese’s Church of England roots, Section 10 stated that “only episcopally ordained priests may consecrate the Holy Communion.”

In light of the Appellate Tribunal’s 2007 decision finding a right to the ordination of women to the episcopate within the existing canons of the Anglican Church of Australia even though this right was not envisioned when the language of the canons was drafted, the Davies committee stated a precedent had been set that set aside the notion of legislative intent in the interpretation of church canons.

The Appellate Tribunal had “expressed the view that legislation is to be interpreted by the meaning of the words used and not on the basis of any supposed intention of the promoters of legislation,” the Davies committee observed. If doctrine could be developed by resort to grammar in the case of women bishops, such a tool could not logistically be denied to diaconal presidency at the Eucharist, it noted.

Lourdes questions for Dr. Williams: CEN 10.17.08 p 5. October 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Lourdes last month continues to be a source of controversy within the Anglican Communion and the wider Christian church.

Critics have lambasted Dr. Williams for departing from Anglican tradition and acceding to the Roman Catholic dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary. While the content of Dr. Williams’ sermon has aroused the ire of Protestants, the fact that his sermon took place during a Roman Catholic mass has intrigued liturgists, who note that Roman Catholic canon law only permits Catholic clergy to preach at a mass.

New Zealand liturgist, the Rev. Bosco Peters, observed that by allowing Dr. Williams to preach at Lourdes, “Roman Catholics appear to be accepting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is validly ordained.”

The Rt. Rev. Jacques Perrier, the Catholic bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes invited Dr. Williams to preach at the international mass, where Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, celebrated.

While Canon 766 permits Catholic bishops to authorize lay persons to preach in Catholic churches, canon 767 restricts preaching at masses to Catholic clergy. “Every Catholic seminarian would know this from seminary’s Liturgy 101. So in inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury to preach at such an internationally significant Roman Catholic Mass are they acknowledging that Archbishop Rowan Williams is validly ordained?” Mr. Peters asked.

The Rev. Jeremy Brooks, Director of Ministry of the Protestant Truth Society took umbrage at Dr Williams’ visit and homily at Lourdes, calling it a “wholesale compromise” and “complete denial of Protestant orthodoxy.”

In his Sept 26 homily Dr. Williams stated that “when Mary came to Bernadette, she came at first as an anonymous figure, a beautiful lady, a mysterious ‘thing’, not yet identified as the Lord’s spotless mother.” The archbishop further stated that in response to the apparition of Mary, “Bernadette – uneducated, uninstructed in doctrine – leapt with joy, recognising that here was life, here was healing.”

These assertions go against traditional Anglican formularies as found in the Articles of Religion, critics asserted. Identifying Mary as the “Lord’s spotless mother,” a reference to her immaculate conception and perpetual virginity, contradicts Article XV. “Of Christ alone without Sin.”

The statement that in Mary, “here was life, here was healing,” appears to contradict Article XVIII, that life and healing along come from Christ, which states “For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

“Lourdes represents everything about Roman Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation ejected, including apparitions, Mariolatry and the veneration of saints,” Mr. Brooks said.

“At a time when our country is crying out for clear Biblical leadership, it is nothing short of tragic that our supposedly Protestant archbishop is behaving as little more than a papal puppet,” he charged.

Bell ringer dies after fall from Suffolk tower:CEN 9.05.08 p 4. September 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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An 80-year old bell ringer has died following a 30 ft fall from a church tower in Suffolk.

Jack Sturgeon, the parish verger of St. Mary’s Church, Mildenhall, fell shortly after ringing the parish bells at a wedding on Aug 30. He was pronounced dead at the scene by off duty fire fighters attending the wedding.

The death of the Suffolk verger is the second serious change ringing accident in England this year. In May a bell ringer broke his collarbone after becoming entangled in a rope at the top of a bell tower.

Tony Merry, a research fellow at Manchester University, became entangled in his rope while change ringing at St Mary’s Church, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. He was lifted three feet off the ground and then dropped him on his shoulder.

Last month a female change ringer became entangled in a rope while change ringing at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane. The 50-year old woman as pulled up the tower by the rope, injuring her pelvis, and had to be rescued by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

A spokesman for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers told The Church of England Newspaper that accidents from change ringing are “very rare” and the “Ecclesiastical Insurance Company regard bell ringing as a very low risk activity.”

Reports of the Brisbane “incident have been quite exaggerated,” he said, and noted that the Australian branch of the Bell Ringers Council had investigated that incident and were “satisfied that all reasonable [health and safety] precautions were in place, and it was simply an unfortunate accident;”

An inquest into the death of the Suffolk verger will be held, however, the Suffolk police have ruled out foul play.

Canterbury celebrates Wales: CEN 8.29.08 p 6. August 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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Welsh music will be on display at Canterbury Cathedral on Sept 13 as a new hymnal written by a vicar from the Rhondda Valley will be launched.

Dr. Rowan Williams and Dr. Barry Morgan, the Archbishops of Canterbury and Wales, will attend a concert given by the National Youth Choir for Wales, the National Youth Symphonic Brass Wales, choristers from Canterbury Cathedral, and the choir from a Welsh primary school performing the music of the Rev. Paul Bigmore from his new hymnal, The Songs of the Pilgrim.

The vicar of St Anne’s Church, Ynyshir, Mr. Bigmore ten years ago launched “Music in the Community,” a programme designed to revive the musical heritage of South Wales and has organised concerts, recitals, master-classes and competitions to engage, entertain and educate local people.

“Music in the Community has made a positive difference to peoples’ lives in the last 10 years,” Mr. Bigmore said. “It involves people of all ages and abilities and addresses the needs of those who are socially excluded. It is a positive scheme for communities as it strengthens their cultural and linguistic identities and enables them to experience performances of all music.”

Dr. Morgan said the concert would celebrate the projects’ success. “The South Wales Valleys have a rich tradition of music making, much of it fostered and inspired by the churches and chapels that have been the focus of community life for generations,” he said.

“The Christian life is often described as a journey where we travel in heart and mind, towards a deeper knowledge of the God who draws us to Himself. It is therefore appropriate in our journey to this great Christian Shrine [Canterbury Cathedral], to have brought with us something of our culture to celebrate and offer, in thanksgiving and praise,” Dr. Morgan said.

Two US Bishops issue guidelines for gay wedding services: CEN 6.13.08 p 6. June 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in California, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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THE BISHOPS of California and El Camino Real have issued guidelines to their clergy for conducting gay marriages.

While issued as a result of the May 15 California Supreme Court ruling that struck down laws barring gay marriage, the pastoral letters of Bishops Marc Andrus and Mary Gray-Reeves are part of a widening campaign to normalize homosexuality within the Episcopal Church that last week also witnessed the long anticipated gay civil union ceremony of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

US Bishops issue guidelines for gay marriages

No change on the Eucharist: CEN 3.14.08 p 7 March 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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eucharistic-wafers.jpg

There should be no change to the definition of “bread and wine” in the rubrics of the Eucharist a task force created by the Anglican Consultative Council’s Inter-Anglican Liturgical Committee has recommended. However, the use of gluten-free bread or other food staples as local exceptions should not be discouraged the report entitled “Eucharistic Food and Drink” said.

Prepared by a committee led by the ACC’s liturgical officer, the Rev. Paul Gibson of Canada, the “Eucharistic Food and Drink” report surveyed the provinces of the Anglican Communion asking whether the “use of elements other than wheat bread and fermented grape wine in the celebration of the Holy Communion” was in use.

The rubrics of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer allow an ambiguity in the form the host may take stating it “shall suffice that the Bread be such as is usual to be eaten; but the best and purest Wheat Bread that conveniently may be gotten.”

Ten provinces reported that some substitution of wheat bread and fermented grape wine was in place, either in formal practice or unofficial custom.

In Western countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US, the use of rice-cakes to accommodate the needs of those suffering from gluten allergies, and grape juice for children or alcoholics was unofficially allowed.

In Islamic dominated regions where law forbad the possession of wine, grape juice was used. Pakistan reported that a drink made from boiling raisins and sugar was substituted for wine. Abhorrence of alcohol was also a factor in substituting wine for grape juice in some aboriginal communities in Canada and Australia as well as in East Africa, the report found.

In sections of Africa and the Far East the scarcity of wheat bread or wine had brought about the use of local substitutes. The Philippines reported the use of rice cakes and rice wine, while Uganda noted that Coke, banana juice, passion fruit or pineapple juice was used in some parishes. The practice had arisen, it said during the “difficult years of Idi Amin” when bread and wine were all but unobtainable. However, it could not say how widespread the practice was at present.

The report recommended that the church “reaffirm that the normative principle and practice of the Anglican Communion has always been and continues to be the use of the elements of bread and wine at the Eucharist.”

However, they said it was not “necessary or helpful to define ‘bread’ or ‘wine’ in precise detail. It is enough that the elements should be realistically capable of being called ‘bread’ and ‘wine’ in the context of the celebration of the Eucharist in a particular culture at a particular time.”

The decision to permit substitutions, they noted, was “best dealt with by the Province concerned, giving serious consideration to the effect of such variation on other Provinces.”

Vatican rules on baptismal language: CEN 3.01.08 March 1, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Roman Catholic Church.
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BAPTISMAL liturgies that omit the masculine names of the persons of the Trinity are invalid, the Roman Catholic Church has declared.

In a statement released on Feb 29, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said variations or approximations of the words “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” were impermissible. Persons baptized in the name of the “Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer” were to be treated as being “unbaptized” under Catholic Canon law.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Vatican rules on Baptismal language

Maundy first for Northern Ireland: CEN 2.08.08 p 3 February 7, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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maundy-thursday.jpgBuckingham Palace has announced that the Church of Ireland will host this year’s Royal Maundy Thursday service.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will travel to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh for the March 20 Office of Royal Maundy where 82 men and 82 women will be presented with “Maundy money.”

The recipients of the silver coins are local pensioners who have made a “significant contribution” to Church or civic life. They will be chosen by the leaders of Ulster’s four main churches: the Church of Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church.

The distribution of alms on Maundy Thursday has its origin in our Jesus washing of the disciples’ feet. The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th century. Gifts of food and clothing were also distributed by the monarch while James II was the last King to wash the recipient’s feet.

The number of recipients is by tradition set by the age of the monarch-who is 82 years of age. The Queen will be accompanied by the Choir of the Royal Chapel who along with the St Patrick’s Choir, will lead worship.

The Dean of Armagh, the Very Rev Patrick Rooke stated the selection of his cathedral was a “great honour for us in Armagh. We are excited and certain that this will be a memorable and special service for all those involved.”

This year’s service will mark the first time the service has been held in Northern Ireland, and only the second time it has been held outside of England. In 1982 the service was held at the Church in Wales’ St. David’s Cathedral in Dyfed.

The word “Maundy” is derived from the first antiphon traditionally sung at the ceremony: “Mandatum novum do vobis”: A new commandment give I unto you. John 13.34.

Jewish leaders disappointed over Good Friday prayers: CEN 2.06.08 February 6, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Judaism, Roman Catholic Church.
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THE RETENTION of prayers calling for the conversion of the Jews in the Roman Catholic Church’s Good Friday prayers is a matter of grave disappointment, Jewish leaders tell Religious Intelligence.

On Tuesday the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published on its front page the Latin text of the revised Good Friday liturgy for congregations using the traditional “Tridentine” Latin-language rite, reauthorized for use in July by Pope Benedict XVI.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Jewish leaders disappointed over Good Friday prayers

Jews welcome Catholic liturgy reforms: CEN 2.04.08 February 4, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Judaism, Roman Catholic Church.
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POPE Benedict XVI will reformulate the Roman Catholic Church’s Good Friday liturgy, removing statements deemed offensive by the Jewish Community.

The new prayer will drop all reference to the “blindness” and “darkness” of the Jews in refusing Christ as saviour, the Milan newspaper Il Giornale, reported on Jan. 18. It stated the Pope had prepared a draft version of the new prayer, which would be released in time for Holy Week celebrations in March.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Jews welcome Catholic liturgy reforms

Pope rewrites prayer following Jewish protest: JP 2.03.08 February 3, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Hymnody/Liturgy, Jerusalem Post, Judaism, Roman Catholic Church.
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Jewish leaders have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to reformulate the Catholic Church’s traditional Good Friday prayers.

The removal of references to the “darkness” and “blindness” of the Jews for their refusal to recognize Jesus as the messiah was a sign the pope was “deeply committed to advancing the relationship with the Jewish Community,” Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, told The Jerusalem Post.

The new text will drop all reference to the “blindness” of the Jews, Milan’s Il Giornale newspaper reported on January 18. The pope has prepared a draft version of the new prayer, which will be released in time for Holy Week celebrations in March, the report said.

Read it all in The Jerusalem Post.

Nigerian Church begins Prayer Book revision: CEN 2.01.08 p 8. February 2, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Church of Nigeria will begin a new round of Prayer Book revision, Archbishop Peter Akinola said in a pastoral letter published at the end of the church’s House of Bishops’ meeting last week.

The current Prayer Book, last revised in 1996, will seek to use modern language and African imagery to “help us to worship God meaningfully and relevantly in our setting and many situations,” Archbishop Akinola said.

He encouraged Anglicans to “prepare prayerfully so that the liturgy does not become a cold and lifeless aspect of our worship life, but a vibrant, inspiring and liberating encounter with our self-revealing God.”

The revision process for the Nigerian Church’s new prayer book will differ from that taken by the Episcopal Church with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in that no doctrinal innovations or revisions will be made.

In 2005 the Nigerian Church amended its constitution outlining the substance of its faith and subordinating its ecclesial structures to doctrinal formularies. Language that defined the Church as being “in communion with the See of Canterbury” was rescinded.

The Nigerian Church would now be “in communion” with “all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.”

Sources familiar with the revision project tell The Church of England Newspaper the Church of Nigeria is committed to the “historic faith once delivered to the Saints” and to Anglicanism’s traditional formularies. The new book will seek to acculturate these doctrinal truths into a West African context, allowing the Church to grow through a living liturgy.

Now the MDG liturgy: CEN 1.25.08 p 7. January 24, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Development/Economics/Govt Finances, Hymnody/Liturgy, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church’s charitable arm, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has released a liturgy to encourage American Anglicans to focus their Lenten devotions upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The liturgy “Stations of the MDGs” is “designed to be used during Lent in lieu of the traditional Stations of the Cross service,” Luke Fodor, the Network Coordinator at the Office of Church Relations at ERD said in an email.

Adapted from a template prepared by Mike Angell of the Office of Young Adult and Higher Education Ministries at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, the liturgy takes the worshipper through eight stations of the MDGs, each signifying one of the goals of the 2000 UN programme to eradicate poverty in the developing world.

The service begins with an explanation of the meaning of the MDGs and the statement that “Today, we will pray and experience the MDGs as Stations as we commit ourselves to living out the Baptismal Covenant by working to achieve the MDGs. We see ourselves and the Church as on a pilgrimage in the world, journeying with each other toward the justice of the Reign of God as manifest in the goals.”

Pilgrims then recite the Baptismal covenant found in the American Book of Common Prayer and then move through each of the eight stations as leaders give reflections how the worshipper might help: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and create a global partnership for development.

After the worshippers have passed through each of the stations of the MDGs, they are gathered together by the celebrant who then says, “Let us repeat together and commit ourselves to the Millennium Development Goals.” To which the congregations replies, “As Christians we commit ourselves to God’s Mission as we work to” bring about the eight goals.

In 2003 the Episcopal Church endorsed the MDGs and at its General Convention in 2006 voted to make the MDGs a mission priority for the church.

Akinola urges Bishops to make worship more interesting: CEN 1.16.08 January 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Hymnody/Liturgy, Lambeth 2008.
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Lex orandi, lex credendi should be the rule of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola told members of that Church’s House of Bishops last week, urging a reform of liturgical practices to strengthen the faith of all believers.

“We must make our style of worship so styled and spirit-filled that our congregations will be moved to see vision like in the book of Isaiah,” he told the 120 bishops gathered at the Ibru Centre in Agbarha-Otor from Jan 7-12.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Akinola urges Bishops to make worship more interesting

Bishop’s anger over secular naming ceremony: CEN 12.07.07 December 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Popular Culture.
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THE BISHOP of Dover has criticized Kent County Council (KCC) for privileging secular ‘baby welcoming’ ceremonies over Christian baptism for newborn infants.

“Whilst I have no objection to KCC offering a secular service for those who would like it, I do have problems with them promoting these alternatives through the registration service,” Bishop Stephen Venner told the diocesan newspaper, Outlook.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop’s anger over secular naming ceremony

Japan unveils its new hymnbook: CEN 10.26.07 p 7. October 27, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
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The Anglican Church in Japan, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai [NSKK] has revamped its hymnal, replacing Hymns Ancient and Modern with a new book that seeks the enculturation of Christian hymnody into the Japanese cultural experience.

Work on the new hymnal began in 1994 with a mandate to move away from reliance upon Japanese translations of traditional English and American hymns. The new book, the Hymnal of Nippon Sei Ko Kai was released with month and includes 590 hymns and 77 liturgical chants.

The new book combines colloquial Japanese hymns, with translations of Chinese and other Asian Christians hymns, the NSKK said. It also sought to add hymns that celebrated creation and God’s relationship to man.

Diana Prayers Spark Concerns: CEN 8.31.07 p 3. August 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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Prayers penned by the Archbishop of Canterbury to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales have sparked controversy among Evangelical leaders, concerned by their theological implications of an intermediate state after death, or purgatory.

While Prayers for the Dead are not expressly forbidden by the Articles of Religion, the Homilies, a major source of the doctrine of the Church of England, reject their use. Dr. Williams’ Diana prayers depart from the Church’s historical teachings, critics note, and offer the strongest official support for the efficacy of prayers by the living for the salvation of the dead.

However, a spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper, there is “no suggestion of purgatory” in the Diana prayers.

On Aug 20, the Church of England released the text of prayers written by Dr. Williams for use at the Aug 31 memorial service led by the Bishop of London at the Guards Chapel to commemorate the death of Princess Diana.

“The text of the prayers read: God our Father, we remember before you DIANA, Princess of Wales, and offer you our gratitude for all the memories of her that we treasure still. Her vulnerability and her willingness to reach out to the excluded and forgotten touched us all; her generosity gave hope and joy to many. May she rest in peace where sorrow and pain are banished, and may the everlasting light of your merciful love shine upon her; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father eternal, unfailing source of peace to all who seek you, we entrust to your love and protection all for whom this anniversary of the tragic and untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales reawakens the pains of grief and loss. Comfort all who mourn, that casting all their cares upon you, they may be filled with your gifts – of new life, of courage and of hope; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Critics of the prayers note that while the twee references to “vulnerability” may not be to taste for some, the petition that she “may rest in peace where sorrow and pain are banished, and may the everlasting light of your merciful love shine upon her,” implies an intermediate state between heaven and hell, where the soul of the departed may benefit from the petitions and prayers of the living.

The President of the Prayer Book Society of the United States, Dr. Peter Toon stated the “formularies of the Church of England neither contain nor call for prayers for the departed.”

They were used by Anglo-Catholics as additions to the approved liturgy from the late Nineteenth century forward, but came into vogue following the World Wars. Liturgical revisions approved by Convocation and then Synod have “allowed vaguely worded prayers for the departed,” he said.

However, the “Prayers for the late Princess are stretching the Common Worship vague provision into specific request and are provided not really for theologically reasons but social ones, the popular cult of the departed lady.”

The Rev. David Phillips of The Church Society commented that Anglicans had become “numbed to this issue because too much ground was given in liturgical revision of the ASB and to some extent with Common Worship.”

“The arguments people put forward in revision were all devious, relied on sentiment, and avoided explaining what theology of death underlies them,” Mr. Phillips said. “What is authorised is clearly wrong. It is intercession for the departed and therefore undermines the Biblical gospel. This new prayer appears to be more of the same.”

Reggae Heroes Make it to the Hymn Books: CEN 8.10.07 August 9, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Hymnody/Liturgy, Popular Culture.
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The Church of the Province of the West Indies has drawn upon reggae artists Bob Marley and Peter Tosh for inclusion in its new hymnal.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer on Aug 1, Canon Ernle Gordon of Kingston said Tosh’s reggae version of Psalm 27 and Bob Marley “One Love” would be included in a hymnal scheduled for publication later this year.

The inclusion of the two reggae songs in the hymnal was part of the Church’s move to make it culturally relevant. However, some congregations had been having reggae, calypso and mento (a precursor of ska and reggae popular in the 1950’s) for over 25 years, Canon Gordon said.

“I don’t live in England; I live here, so my theology and how I think must reflect my cultural morals. The theology has to be Caribbean-oriented. You have to interpret the Bible according to where you are,” he told the Observer.

 

The Anglican Church was careful that its reggae gospel music was used “correct theology and that they are catholic in theology,” he said, making “certain that the words relate to the Bible and to our own Anglican interpretation of it.”

 

The Province permits the use of a number of hymnals and different dioceses favor different books. The most widely used hymnal in the predominantly Anglo-Catholic West Indies, however, is Hymns Ancient and Modern.

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