One of the resolutions on the abbreviated legislative agenda for the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church is 2022-A059 — proposed by the Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPRB) and taking an important first step in determining both how the prayer book is revised and how it is defined. The LGBTQ+ Caucus urges the adoption of Resolution A059 without amendment.
Jim Naughton — who offered a comprehensive review of the history of A059 in his recent post to The House of Deputy News — reminds us that the enabling charge to the task force included proposing “revisions to the Constitution and Canons to enable The Episcopal Church to be adaptive in its engagement of future generations of Episcopalians, multiplying, connecting, and disseminating new liturgies for mission, attending to prayer book revision in other provinces of the Anglican Communion.”
A059 accomplishes that goal and equips the Episcopal Church for the work of moving forward on the winding road toward long-overdue revisions of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
In true Anglican fashion, A059 will not move the church forward fast enough for some and will be a step too far for others.
It will not be enough for those who long for the revision of a forty-three year old Book of Common Prayer which defaults to binary male pronouns as normative for all members of our diverse human family — or for those who still do not have equal access to the rites for marriage approved for all couples at the 79th General Convention. And it will be too much for those whose preferred worship style depends on “traditional language” — or for those for whom equivalency between marriage for opposite and same-sex couples is a bridge too far.
But it is the work we have been called to do as a church by the 79th General Convention — and it is the work we urge the 80th General Convention to continue by adopting Resolution A059 without amendment: remembering that the ongoing work of revising the language we use in our common prayers is hard-baked into our tradition with these opening words from the 1789 BCP Preface:
“It is a most invaluable part of that blessed “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline; and therefore, by common consent and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most convenient for the edification of the people, “according to the various exigency of times and occasions.”