Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alliance Defending Freedom: Three Acres Is the Space You'll Need

Three-acre minimum – that was what New Generation Christian Church in Rockdale County, Georgia was told it must buy if it wanted access to property for its worship services.

Yes. Three acres…Minimum.

Apparently officials in Rockdale County haven’t read Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Odd … Jesus didn’t say anything about a minimum amount of land. I mean, could you imagine three people needing three acres of land to worship the Lord? That may be a little too much.

So you can imagine the dilemma for New Generation Christian Church, a small, startup church that could not afford three acres of land. After being denied permission to use several different properties for its worship services, the church was forced to meet in the inadequate basement of a jewelry store. Keep reading

Ron Edmondson: 21 Ways to Keep a Church from Growing

I was once asked to help a church process how to get younger people to attend. After we discussed some change recommendations a man pulled me aside and said, “Son, we don’t need no fancy ideas around here. We like being a small church.

I soon learned he represented the feelings of the church as a whole. They thought they wanted to reach younger people, but the truth was — when faced with change — they were really satisfied with the church as it had been for many years.

There’s nothing wrong with being a small church. Let me say that again — There is nothing wrong with being a small church. In fact, in some communities, what is considered small is actually large by comparison to churches in larger cities. I’m not opposed to small churches, but I do have a problem with some small church mentalities.

I think there is a difference.

As long as there are lost people nearby, I believe the church has much work to do. And, any organization, Christian or secular, that refuses to accept some changes will stop growing and eventually die.

The fact is that growing a church is hard work. It’s relatively easy to keep things small or stop growth.

In fact, I can come up with lots of ways I’ve seen that keep a church from growing. Keep reading

Karl Vaters: The 3 Best Seasons for Bringing Change to a Church

It’s not always easy to fix long-term problems and implement needed changes in a church – especially when old, dysfunctional ways have taken root.

Sometimes we make our job harder than it needs to be, not by doing the wrong things, but by doing the right things at the wrong time.

Solomon said it best, in what may be the greatest change passage in the bible, when he told us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: … a time to plant and a time to uproot … a time to tear down and a time to build … a time to keep and a time to throw away … a time to tear and a time to mend…” - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For every needed change, there is a right season. So how do we know when that season is?

Over the years, I’ve discovered three simple principles that have helped me and my church. They’re found in the following old fable. Keep reading

Ray Stigile: 3 Questions To Ask Before You Copy Another Church

Recently, I helped a church staff evaluate the early blueprints for a new building project. I noticed a coffee bar was located in a very tight spot in the far corner of the lobby. When I asked the purpose of the coffee bar, know one on the team was entirely sure about it. They had seen one in a few other churches and figured it must be worth having. From there, we discussed how coffee bars are generally intended to foster community. The tight location of theirs would not allow for that. The team had come very close to falling into a trap that every church leader risks when they adopt someone else’s idea.

Replicating proven methods from other churches is not inherently wrong. In fact, it is nearly essential to innovation and relevance. However, when we transfer a method after only a surface-level observation, we fail to understand the strategic purpose behind the idea. Like puzzle pieces that don’t fit, these mismatched approaches can quickly limit the ministry they were meant to empower.

The next time you consider copying a method from another organization, ask yourself the following the three questions.... Keep reading

David Murray: 10 Steps To Help Seekers Find the Lord

Having considered 14 different kinds of seeker and then offered some reminders and questions when dealing with seekers, today I’d like to offer some guidelines for helping seekers find the Lord. Keep reading

See also
14 Kinds of Seekers
Reminders and Questions For Dealing With Seekers

Ben Simpson: It's a Team Harvest

As laborers for Jesus, we are all working to reap a harvest through the Gospel. We plant, we water and we harvest. However, we don't always get to do all three things with the same person.

Sometimes we're the one who plants the Gospel in a person's life. At other times we're the one who waters that Gospel so that it might take root, grow, bloom and bear fruit. Still other times we are the one who gets to harvest that soul by leading them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Of course, it's God who brings the growth and the harvest, but He uses human agents to bring it about (Matthew 9:37-38). Keep reading

Ebola: Will it spread and where will it end?

Patrick Sawyer took a flight from Liberia on July 20 feeling fine, but by the time he arrived in the Nigerian capital Lagos, he had diarrhoea and vomiting and collapsed. Five days later he was dead.

More than 670 people have died and more than 1,200 people have been infected in the latest outbreak which started in south-eastern Guinea in February and has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The idea that Ebola could spread further afield, including to the US or Europe, has put fear in the hearts of border controls around the world.

Liberian border crossings have been shut down and immigration controls have stepped up screening. But with symptoms taking days to appear, how can the spread of this epidemic be prevented? Keep reading

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anglicans Ablaze Midweek Special Edition: July 30, 2014

In this midweek special edition of Anglicans Ablaze:

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer—the Most Widely Used Prayer Book in the Anglican Church in North America

The Challenges of a Common Liturgy—Part 4

By Robin G. Jordan

A number of developments have influenced the evolution of Anglican service books in the past 100 years.  They include the Anglo-Catholic movement, the ecumenical movement, the liturgical movement, the indigenization movement, the charismatic renewal movement, feminism and the gender equality movement, the gay-rights movement, the Ancient Future worship renewal movement, the secularization of Western societies, the waning of Christianity and the decline in church attendance in Western countries, the expansion of Christianity in non-Western countries, and the rapid growth of digital information technology. The last 100 years has been a significant period in Prayer Book revision. While the influence of these developments has not impacted all provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Church equally, all have felt their impact in one way or another.

The decade after World War I would witness a spate of Prayer Book revision. This Prayer Book revision would produce the 1918 Canadian Prayer Book, the 1926 Irish Prayer Book, the 1928 American Prayer Book, the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book, and the 1929 South African Prayer Book.  The 1918 Canadian Prayer Book and the 1926 Irish Prayer Book were conservative revisions of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The 1928 American Prayer Book, the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book, and 1929 South African Prayer Book, on the other hand, introduced radical changes in the Prayer Book. The 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book would prove too radical for Parliament, which twice rejected the revision.

1958 would mark a major watershed in twentieth century Prayer Book revision. The 1958 Lambeth Conference adopted four resolutions on Prayer Book revision and a fifth resolution on the Holy Communion service. 

In Resolution 73 the 1958 Lambeth Conference would commend to the study of all sections of the Anglican Communion the Report of the Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer on the subject of “the contemporary movement towards unanimity in doctrinal and liturgical matters by those of differing traditions in the Anglican Communion as a result of new knowledge gained from biblical and liturgical studies.”  In the second part of Resolution 74 the conference urged that “a chief aim of Prayer Book revision should be to further that recovery of the worship of the primitive Church which was the aim of the compilers of the first Prayer Books of the Church of England.” In Resolution 75 the conference commended to the study of the whole Anglican Communion “the counsel on Prayer Book revision given in the Report of the Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer.” 

Resolution 76 stated:
The Book of Common Prayer - The Holy Communion Service

The Conference requests the Archbishop of Canterbury, in co-operation with the Consultative Body, to appoint an advisory committee to prepare recommendations for the structure of the Holy Communion service which could be taken into consideration by any Church or Province revising its eucharistic rite, and which would both conserve the doctrinal balance of the Anglican tradition and take account of present liturgical knowledge.    
These resolutions would open a floodgate of theological and liturgical diversity. Among the recommendations the Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer was that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer should no longer be considered “the norm of doctrine and worship and uniting factor in the Anglican Communion” as it had been before that time. The next 50 odd years would see a proliferation of liturgies that bore no resemblance to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in language, doctrine, and liturgical usages.

It deserves special mention that the second part of 1958 Lambeth Conference’s Resolution 74 was based upon an argument used by the Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer. In a Churchman article, “Lambeth 1958 and the ‘Liturgy for Africa’” Roger Beckwith examines this argument:
The final argument used by the committee is that Cranmer's aim was a recovery of the worship of the primitive church : in this he achieved notable success, but was hampered by having less knowledge about early Christian worship than we have today. This definition of Cranmer's aim is less than a half truth, as the prefaces "Concerning the Service of the Church " and " Of Ceremonies " in the Prayer Book sufficiently show. Cranmer's great concern was to restore worship to conformity with the Christian Gospel, as set forth in Holy Scripture, and to construct orderly and edifying services based on the principles and instructions which Scripture contains. Anything which had never subserved this end or had ceased to do so, however ancient, he discarded. He undoubtedly retained what was old in preference to substituting something new when the new would have been no better, and restored what was old when it was better than what was in use and better than anything he could devise himself. But it is clear that he would not have restored what was old just because it was old, though no better than what was in use : this would have been contrary to his principle of avoiding needless changes in existing customs (see the preface ·~Of Ceremonies", and cf. Article 34). Had Cranmer known all that is known today about early Christian worship, he might well have made more use of it at points where changes were then needed. But he would not have made use of this knowledge at points where changes were not then needed, and he would not have expected us to make use of it at points where, because of his work, changes are not needed today. His work may not always have been " primitive ", but, in whole or in part, it has held its ground in all branches of the Anglican Communion since their inception, and therefore, on the basis of his principles, it has now the same claim to be left standing as the harmless medievalisms which he left standing himself.
Beckwith goes on to point out:
In any case, if Cranmer "achieved notable success" in restoring the worship of the primitive church, as the committee says, why need his Prayer Book be wholly set aside by those who wish to carry the restoration further? It must always be remembered that a complete restoration of the worship of the primitive church would be impossible for, as A. Couratin remarks, when criticizing the committee's report at this point, the evidence from the first three centuries is still scanty, the ecclesiastical and social situation was then completely different, and theology was in an immature state (Lambeth and Liturgy, 1959, pp. Sf.).
The 2008 Jerusalem Declaration is in part a rejection of the doctrinal and liturgical recommendations of the Report of the Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer. With the declaration the first GAFCON Conference sought to undo the damage that the 1958 Lambeth Conference would cause with its endorsement of the sub-committee’s Report. It calls the Anglican Church back to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as the Anglican standards for doctrine and worship.

The 1960s and 1970s in the United States would see the production of series of experimental liturgies and trial services for use in the Episcopal Church, which would culminate in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The process of Prayer Book revision would prove divisive for American Episcopalians. Some would welcome the new liturgies and services; others clung resolutely to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The movement to ordain women and other developments in the Episcopal Church would exacerbate the situation.

General Convention’s authorization of the 1979 Prayer Book and women’s ordination would cause an exodus of Episcopalians unhappy with these changes and the formation of the abortive first Anglican Church in North American. The Continuing Anglicans as they would come to be called soon fell out over doctrine and other matters. The first Anglican Church in North America would quickly fragment into a welter of rival Continuing Anglican jurisdictions.

A form of extreme Anglo-Catholicism would become the dominant theology in most of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. While these jurisdictions would retain the 1928 Prayer Book as their official liturgy, in the jurisdictions in which this form of Anglo-Catholicism was the dominant theology, the texts and rubrics of the 1928 Prayer Book would be supplemented by those of various editions of the Anglican Missal. The Anglican Missal would become their standard of doctrine and worship.

A number of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions have disappeared since the early days of the Continuing Anglican movement. The remaining jurisdictions have seen a decline in the number of their clergy and congregations with the shrinking of their population base due to attrition from ill-health, death, and defection to the Roman Catholic Church.

During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century the Episcopal Church had developed an anti-evangelical identity that associated evangelism with evangelicalism. The Continuers who were for a larger part former Episcopalians shared this identity. They did not develop in their churches the evangelistic culture that is essential to a church’s fulfillment of the Great Commission and its subsequent growth.

The Continuing Anglican jurisdictions in starting new congregations relied heavily on building these congregations around a core of traditionalist Episcopalians unhappy with developments in the Episcopal Church. They essentially targeted a very miniscule segment of the population. They also relied on the appeal of what they touted as the traditional worship of the 1928 Prayer Book to attract additional members.

Due to their clergy’s use of various editions of the Anglican Missal, worship of their churches went well beyond that of the 1928 Prayer Book. Even where only the 1928 Prayer Book was used, the worship of Continuing Anglican churches would have limited appeal. It did not prove the draw which Continuers though that it would: It did not cause people to flock to their churches. The way they worshiped was too strongly associated in the popular mind with Roman Catholicism. Their church services were tiresomely long and the language used in the services unfamiliar. Other factors contributed to their worship’s lack of appeal.

This miscalculation has resulted in the decline of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions as their clergy and their congregations have aged and died. A new generation of Episcopalians unhappy with developments in their denomination is accustomed to the 1979 Prayer Book. This generation has preferred to form its own breakaway jurisdictions—the Anglican Mission in America and the second Anglican Church in North America.

What has happened to the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions shows how the choice of a service book can adversely affect the life and ministry of a denomination.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer has been in use for more than three decades. The 1979 Prayer Book was a more substantial revision than its predecessor. Like the 1928 Prayer Book , it shows the influence of the nineteenth century Catholic Revival. It also shows the influence of the twentieth century ecumenical and liturgical movements.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is the official Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church. The 1979 Prayer Book enjoys wide use in the second Anglican Church in North America and is used in a number of other denominations. It is the most popular source of liturgies for the convergence movement, a movement of evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States, which blends charismatic worship with liturgical forms of service.

While retaining a number of services in traditional or Jacobean English, the 1979 Prayer Book’s principal language is contemporary English—not quite the vernacular but what can be described as “good liturgical English.”  It introduces a number of new prayers and rites and a new liturgical Psalter.

The 1979 Prayer Book emphasizes the centrality of the Holy Eucharist to Christian worship. For celebrations of the Holy Eucharist the 1979 Prayer Book adopts the structure recommended by the 1958 Lambeth Conference’s Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer.

The doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice championed by the 1958 Lambeth Conference’s Sub-committee on the Book of Common Prayer is evident in the 1979 Prayer Book’s eucharistic prayers and catechism. This doctrine maintains that the church participates in Christ’s ongoing sacrificial activities through the celebration of the Eucharist. It has been critiqued by Roger Beckwith, J. I. Packer, and others and shown to be inconsistent with the Scriptures and the Thirty-Nine Articles.

The 1979 Prayer Book’s doctrine of eucharistic presence is one of moderate realism. The wording of the four eucharistic prayers and the words of administration in the Rite II Holy Eucharist and the second eucharistic prayer and the retention of the 1548 Order of Communion in the Rite I Eucharist point to a real presence of Christ in the eucharistic elements. Both rites do not entirely exclude the twin notions that the eucharistic elements undergo a change in substance and that the Eucharist itself is a reiteration or representation of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The eucharistic doctrine of the 1979 Prayer Book is far removed from that of the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It is a culmination of the movement of the American Prayer Book away from the eucharistic doctrine of the classical Anglican formularies that began with the Episcopal Church’s adoption of the 1789 Prayer Book and its subsequent adoption of the 1804 revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles. The Episcopal Church would not require clerical subscription to this revision. The 1979 Prayer Book relegates the Thirty-Nine Articles to its historical documents section, reflecting a common view in the Episcopal Church (and its latest offspring, the second Anglican Church in North America) that the Thirty-Nine Articles is a relic of the past.

While the 1979 Prayer Book has been criticized for the emphasis that it gives to the baptismal covenant, the target of this criticism is in actuality the liberal interpretation and application of this covenant and not the book’s. The rubrics and wording of its baptismal rites permits two different interpretations of these rites. One interpretation is that confirmation, as understood in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, occurs with the anointing of the newly-baptized with chrism, or blessed oil. In any event the position of the 1979 Prayer Book is that baptism is complete initiation into the Christian Church. This position is consistent with the Scriptures and is one of the 1979 Prayer Book’s strong points.

Among the other strong points of the 1979 Prayer Book is that metrical versions of the Invitatory Psalms, and of the Canticles after the Readings,  may be used at Morning and Evening Prayer. In special circumstance, a hymn may be sung in place of a Canticle. These provisions in the Additional Directions for Morning and Evening Prayer are a boon to small congregations which lack the musical leadership, acoustical environment, and/or voices to sing chant, which have a large number of children in the congregation, or whose ministry target group shows no affinity for plainsong or other forms of chant.

The most common method of reciting the Psalms in churches used in Episcopal and Anglican churches is responsively. This is the most boring, pedestrian, and uninteresting method of reciting the Psalms. Its use accounts in part for the lackluster worship of small Episcopal and Anglican congregations for whom Morning Prayer is the principal service on most Sundays and whose circumstances prevents them from singing chant.

Morning and Evening Prayer may be used as the Liturgy of the Word at a celebration of the Eucharist.  

An Order of Worship for the Evening with the addition of psalms, readings, canticles, hymns, and prayers may be used as an evening service. This provides congregations with an alternative form of evening worship in place of the Eucharist or Evening Prayer. The format is particularly suitable for the use of house congregations and other small congregations worshiping in unconventional settings.

The 1979 Prayer Book offers a number of options for the entrance rite of the Eucharist. Among these options is that an Opening Acclamation may be said and a metrical version of a Canticle or  hymn sung, after which the service may continue with the Collect of the Day. This simplified entrance rite is musically less demanding for small congregations than singing both a hymn and a Canticle. The offertory is free from the unnecessary accretions that clutter this ancillary rite in a number of more recent Anglican service books. The Eucharist moves quickly to a close after the distribution of communion.

The first half of the Eucharist through the Prayers of the People may be used as a separate Service of the Word on Sundays and other occasions where there is no celebration of Holy Communion. A collection may be taken after the Prayers of the People and the service concluded with the the Lord’s Prayer, the General Thanksgiving, and the Grace.

This option permits congregations that are accustomed to a weekly celebration of the Eucharist to use a familiar service in the absence of a priest. The service may be led by a deacon or licensed lay reader. It also provides an alternative form of morning worship for congregations with a large number of unbaptized adults and children. It offers the advantage of familiarizing them with the worship format that they are most likely find in other churches using the 1979 Prayer Book. People are inclined to prefer the worship format with which they are most familiar. In addition, the service provides an option for congregations that simply wish to gather as God’s people around the God’s Word on Sundays and other occasions.

The 1979 Prayer Book also provides directions for informal celebrations of the Eucharist—sometimes dubbed “Rite III.” These directions include two forms which may be used to prepare eucharist prayers for use with these celebrations. The rite’s major drawback, beside the wording of these  two forms, is that it may not be used at the principal Sunday or weekly celebration of the Eucharist. The directions for the rite may also not be used to craft an informal Service of the Word. These restrictions greatly limit its usefulness.

Among the weak points of the 1979 Prayer Book is that the services of Morning and Evening Prayer do not permit the omission of everything after the Salutation, “The Lord be with you,” if the Litany or another general intercession is used. The omission of the Suffrages and the Collects is a common feature of the more recent Anglican service books when the Litany or another general intercession is used for the Prayers. This keeps the service from becoming overly long and burdensome and eliminates redundant elements from the service. It also applies the general liturgical principle, “less is more.”

The 1979 Prayer Book contains no provisions for alternative forms of morning worship other than those already noted. While the Episcopal Church has produced a number of new rites since the adoption of the 1979 Prayer Book, it has not produced any new forms for regular services of public worship. The focus of the supplemental liturgical material in Enriching Our Worship 1 is the use of gender-inclusive language and feminine imagery of God in the Eucharist.

From a liturgical perspective the Episcopal Church has not come to terms with its declining worship attendance and increasing clergy shortage. Its worship continues to be centered on the Sunday or weekly celebration of the Eucharist. In other parts of the Anglican Communion provinces have responded to declines in attendance and shortages in clergy with new patterns of worship and greater reliance upon licensed lay readers. They are exploring new formats for gathering as God’s people around God’s Word and new ways of doing church. In upcoming articles in this series we will take a look at the lessons we can learn from the experiences of these provinces.

See also
A Prayer Book for What? The Challenges of a Common Liturgy—Part 3
A Compendium of More Recent Anglican Liturgies
A Prayer Book for Where? The Challenges of a Common Liturgy—Part 2
A Prayer Book for Whom? The Challenges of a Common Liturgy—Part 1

How Outreach Revived Our Church

Although many churches with varied backgrounds and in different settings across the country find themselves stagnating, declining or dying, some of their counterparts in the faith community are a source of hope. Several churches have compelling stories to tell about experiencing dramatic turnarounds and returning to growth and vitality.

For its special 10th anniversary issue, Outreach magazine highlighted the stories of four churches whose pastors credit a commitment to evangelistic outreach with saving their churches.

Here, from the Outreach magazine archives, you’ll find the stories of five more churches—in the words of their pastors—who found new life in large part because of a renewed focus on reaching out beyond their walls. Keep reading

Investing Outward

Q: I pastor a small church, and I feel like Bill Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog Day. Nothing changes. Every week, we have the same people. We’re not reaching anyone. As a pastor, it’s discouraging and frustrating. Is this normal? Is this the way it has to be?

A: Sadly, it is normal. Thankfully, it isn’t the way it has to be.

I’ve experienced the same mind-numbing and heart-wrenching circumstance described in this question, but I’ve also experienced the joy of leading the church beyond it. More importantly, God’s Word makes it clear that the church never has to stay stuck. Our reality is defined by the resurrection, not the tomb. Keep reading

Lead Your Church to Love Your City

Within a half hour of the writing of this article, I noticed some pretty graphic extremes. On one end, I heard about 15 different languages spoken, observed the building of four new high rises, saw the hustle and bustle of a more than a million plus people in downtown Miami, and even jumped on the metro mover to get to my next appointment; that’s one extreme. The other extreme led me to greeting the resident homeless guys that stay right outside our church office area, out of choice by the way, walking through the courthouse district that deals with the custody takeover of children in troubled homes, and seeing the local pimp doing … well, doing what he does. Dear Lord, how are we, as the church, going to reach all of these people? Where in the world do we start? Keep reading

Metrics for A Different Kind of Church

“How do you want your church to be different two years from now?” The typical answer is, “We want more people!” That can be expressed in different forms such as; “We want our auditorium full!” or “We want to start more small groups!” or “We want to see our attendance grow by 10%!” or “We want to start additional services so more people can attend!” Everyone wants more people and more people is good. Jesus wants more people and we should count people because people count. The problem is when the numbers become the end result. Keep reading

Who Invented the TULIP?

Chances are, if you’ve ever heard of the “five points of Calvinism,” you heard them first in the form of a flower—a tulip, to be exact. If your earliest awareness of these points was anything like mine, it began with the fallenness of humanity and ended with the security of the believer, with the most difficult doctrine planted stubbornly in the center, like this.... Keep reading
A fascinating article on the origin and history of the acrostic TULIP.

Three Views on How Long a Sermon Should Be

What is the trend? Are church members and church leaders saying sermons should be longer or shorter? The answer is “yes.”

If my answer is confusing, I understand. But the reality is there are two major trends taking place related to sermon length. I have been following these trends through anecdotal information and social media polls for three years. There are growing numbers of respondents who believe sermons should be longer. There are also growing numbers of respondents who believe sermons should be shorter. And there aren’t many people in the middle of those two divergent views.

By the way, there is a smaller, but consistent, number that feel the pastor should preach “as long or short as God leads” with no constraints at all. That view is the third of the three perspectives. Keep reading

The Church Deserves Better than Ugly Decorations

Neither Granny’s castoffs nor HGTV trends belong in church buildings.

1987 called. It wants its tissue box cover back. You know the one, made by hand in colonial blue and dusty rose calico.

Author David Murrow appears to have found the final resting place of this artifact in the churches he's visited. He excerpted a section from his book, How Women Help Men Find God, in a blog post entitled "Does Your Church Look Like A Beauty Parlor?", describing the country-folksy décor in some small and mid-sized church buildings.... Keep reading
My own beef is with the ecclesiastical kitsch that Anglicans and Episcopalians use to decorate buildings and more. It is not only used for the ornaments of the church but also for ornaments of the priest. A number of church supply houses in the United States and Canada cater to their penchant to use it. Churchgoers become so accustomed to it that they do not notice it or worse--they develop a taste for it. Urgh!!

Reaching People in Evangelism

“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (John 4:7-9)

In John 4:7-9, Jesus crossed three barriers. The first was that which separated Samaritans from Jews. In the eighth century BC, the Assyrian Empire conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and deported the Israelites who lived there. In their place, the Assyrians brought other peoples to populate the land (see 2 Kings 17:24). These Gentiles sought to worship both the gods of their homelands and the local deity, the God of the Israelites, so they mixed the religions. This was a grave offense to the Jews, and over the centuries their hatred only grew as the Samaritans developed their own brand of Judaism. Because of this resentment, most Jews traveling between Jerusalem and Galilee went the long way around Samaria and carefully avoided personal contact with Samaritan people. Rabbi Eliezer taught, “He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine.” So the first barrier Jesus crossed was a barrier of ethnic and cultural hatred. Keep reading
This excerpt is from Richard D. Phillips’ Jesus the Evangelist. Download the ebook free through July 31, 2014.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Defining Missional Matters

A few months ago, progressive mission-thinker Steve Knight critiqued a post I wrote here on The Exchange.

I like Steve. He's smart and engaging. And, I like the name of his blog, Missional Shift (particularly since David Hesselgrave and I edited a book called MissionShift). We obviously disagree on some things, but that is what will make a good blog discussion.

His comments were especially helpful to me as I'm in the process of writing one of the "five views" in a forthcoming book, which will include contrasting a Mainline and evangelical look at mission and missional.

Steve and I dialogued some in the comment section of his post, but I believe it could be beneficial to respond to his criticisms here. Keep reading

Big and Impersonal, Or Small and Pathetic: Are Those My Only Church Options?

Big churches have a reputation for being overly programmed and impersonal. Small Churches have a reputation for being backwards and lazy.

I’ve always fought against those characterizations, believing them to be unfair caricatures. But a recent conversation made me realize that those stereotypes have their foundations in some sad realities.

I was talking with a faithful Christian and regular church attender when he started bending my ear about how hard it was to find a church in the city where he and his family had moved to about a year ago.

“I hate to say it.” he answered me. “but I haven’t found a new church home since we moved here.”

I was surprised. He wasn’t the kind of person to let his faith or church attendance lag.

“Why?”, I asked with genuine concern.

“Well, I go to church almost every Sunday, but finding a church we want to commit to has been harder than I excpected. They’re either really big and impersonal, or small and kinda pathetic. I’m beginning to think those are my only options. I plan to try a few more that people have recommended to me, but I’m not hopeful. If we have to choose, we’ll pick one of the big, impersonal ones. It’s not what we want, but at least it won’t be pathetic.”

Since he used the word pathetic twice, I asked him what he meant by it. He then gave me a short, spine-chilling tour through the minefield of Small Churches he’d visited. Dumpy buildings, smelly facilities, stale singing, boring preaching, legalistic preaching, uneducated preaching, uninspired preaching, unbiblical preaching, out-of-context preaching… I started sensing a theme.

I gave him a couple ideas about how to broaden his search grid to find other church options, but since that conversation I haven’t been able to get him or his predicament out of my mind.

Big and impersonal.

Or small and pathetic.

He’s not a picky or judgmental person at all, so it makes me wonder how many other people are looking for a church and wondering if those are their only two options. Keep reading

See also
The Elements of a Healthy Small Church – And the Hidden Agenda that Can Kill It

Does Your Church Embrace the Vision? Two Ways to Know

There’s a crucial question every ministry leader must answer when it comes to their vision. When do you know the vision has become ingrained in the culture of your church and not just in your own dreams?

It’s not enough to have a vision, even a compelling one. It’s not enough to be able to communicate your vision well. And it definitely isn’t enough to be passionate about your vision. Of course, you’re going to be passionate about your vision. It’s your vision.

What you really want is for the vision to stick. To infiltrate and permeate every area of your church. To be so ingrained in your culture that people speak the vision and do the vision without even thinking about it.

But how do you know when that has happened?

Two indicators stick out to me. Here’s the first.... Keep reading

Our Father…

My first class at the Free University of Amsterdam shattered my academic complacency. It was cultural shock, an exercise in contrasts. It started the moment the professor, Dr. G.C. Berkouwer, entered the room. At his appearance, every student stood at attention until he mounted the podium steps, opened his notebook, and silently nodded for the students to be seated. He then began his lecture, and the students, in a holy hush, dutifully listened and wrote notes for the hour. No one ever dared to interrupt or distract the master by presuming to raise his hand. The session was dominated by a single voice—the voice we were all paying to hear.

When the lecture ended, the professor closed his notebook, stepped down from the podium, and hastily left the room, but not before the students once more rose in his honor. There was no dialogue, no student appointments, no gabfest. No student ever spoke to the professor—except during privately scheduled oral exams.

My first such exam was an exercise in terror. I went to the professor’s house expecting an ordeal. But as rigorous as the exam was, it was not an ordeal. Dr. Berkouwer was warm and kind. In avuncular fashion, he asked about my family. He showed great concern for my well-being and invited me to ask him questions. Keep reading

5 Game Changers for Small Group Sign-Ups

Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tenn., recently tripled the number of people who committed to be in a small group. The key was making it as easy as humanly possible to find and join a group. Here are the church’s five game changers....Keep reading

The Bible in Cornish – after 465 year delay

Landmark as first full and authentic translation of the Bible into Cornish nears completion

It has already been translated into 1,800 languages around the world, including some of mankind’s most obscure tongues, making it easily the best selling book in history.

But next year, after an epic linguistic project lasting more than 20 years, a team of translators is expected to complete what they say will be the first full and authentic version of the Bible in Cornish. Keep reading
While some may view the translation of the Bible into Cornish an academic exercise due to the small size of the Cornish-speaking population of modern Cornwall, no linguistic group. however tiny, should be denied a translation of the Bible in their own language. One of the obstacles to giving a small people group the Bible in their own language is that they may not have a written language. To overcome this obstacle, Faith Comes by Hearing and Wycliffe Bible Translators have collaborated on the development of  Proclaimer, a hand-and-solar-power digital audio Bible. 
Photo: Clare Kendall/Bible Society

House churches in China report on rapid growth

Liu Qiang* remembers 12 years ago bicycling past churches in the countryside. Believers there in China met behind boarded up doors and windows.

"Obviously they are doing something bad if they are having to close up everything," Liu recalls thinking as a teenager.

After Liu became a Christian he learned why churches met in secrecy. He now is a house church pastor.

Times have changed, Liu said. There's a chalkboard in front of his home where his house church meets -- an open invitation to their neighbors to worship Jesus.

Freedoms, at least in some areas of the nation, have grown. Keep reading

See also
'Staggering' number of believers in China, Christian workers say
Police in China remove church's cross
Through foreign exchange student ministry I have met a number of Christians from mainland China. The depth of their faith, the ways they came to faith, and their resolve to practice their faith in the face of Communist Party censure and government crackdowns has been inspiring. 
Photo: IMB/HughJohnson

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Prayer Book for What? The Challenges of a Common Liturgy—Part 3

By Robin G. Jordan

One of the challenges of compiling a service book for a denomination is that whoever is doing the actual drafting of the rites can establish themselves in a position where they determine the content of the rites, controlling what go into the rites and what does not. The other members of the working group may fall into the bad habit of deferring to the drafting team simply because they do not wish to undertake the task of drafting the rites themselves. The drafting team’s personal preferences become the deciding factor rather than important considerations such as the agreeableness of the rite’s doctrine to the Scriptures and the denomination’s confession of faith, the suitability of the rite for the varied contexts of the mission field, and so on.

This problem can be avoided by the application of the principle of redundant external review. A series of panels conducts an exhaustive review of each draft, evaluating the draft in accordance with clearly-defined criteria and critiquing its strong and weak points. Each panel would look at the draft’s language, its style, its doctrine, and other aspects of the draft and would recommend changes. Each panel would have sufficient authority to require the drafting team submit a new draft for its review and/or to submit to the review process an alternative draft of its own if such action was necessary. When the final draft of the rite is submitted to the denominational governing body for its approval, each panel would have the option of submitting a minority report recommending against its adoption and explaining in detail why it is making such a recommendation. Each panel would also have the option of recommending alternative wording or texts and /or alternative rubrics and even an alternative rite along with a detailed explanation of its recommendation. In this way the drafting team’s personal preferences would be obviated as the final deciding factor.

The task of drafting rites is not as formidable as one might imagine. I am speaking from personal experience, having put together proposals for an alternative service book to An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), a contemporary language revision of the 1956 Free Church of England Prayer Book, and a service book based on the murky doctrinal and worship standards of the Anglican Church in North America.  One needs to have a clear idea of what one is seeking to accomplish and some degree of familiarity with the body of liturgical material available to the compilers of service books. One also needs to have a good understanding of the pitfalls of Prayer Book revision, as well as the disparate theological views found in the Anglican Church and how they may be given liturgical expression. One should also have more than a passing acquaintance with the varied contexts of the mission field, and if the rites are to be genuinely Anglican, a strong commitment to the protestant and reformed principles of the Anglican formularies. A practical knowledge of general liturgical principles and a measure of liturgical acumen does not hurt.

Those who form a working group commissioned with compiling a service book for a denomination should come from a diversity of backgrounds and should represent the entire spectrum of theological opinion found in the denomination. While members of the academic community in the denomination’s seminaries and theological schools may at first appear to an obvious choice, they may actually prove a liability rather than an asset. Academics tend to place what they perceive to be ideal forms of worship before practical considerations and are too far removed from the reality of the twenty-first century mission field. A professor of liturgics whose specialty is early and medieval liturgies and who idolizes the past is particularly not a good choice for such a working group.

The senior ministers of large churches may also not be a good choice. The needs and resources of large churches are quite different from those of small churches. Unless they have been involved extensively in small church ministry, they are likely to have little or no grasp of the challenges that face small churches.

No one school of Anglican thought should be allowed to dominate the working group. Where agreement cannot be reached, a good guiding principle is to defer to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This becomes the working group’s default position. The commission that put together An Australian Prayer Book (1978) followed this guiding principle in the compilation of its rites and services.

Some disagreements boil down to matter of preferences. One criticism leveled at the baptismal rite in Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings is that it contains no prayer over the water in the font, modeled upon a eucharistic prayer, a feature of a number of more recent Anglican service books. Even from the perspective of unreformed Catholic theology such a prayer is not essential to the validity or effectualness of the sacrament.

The brief petition in the 1662 rite for the public baptism of infants, “sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin,” is actually redundant. The Flood Prayer earlier in the rite acknowledges that Christ by his own baptism had sanctified water for that purpose. This petition is not found in the 1552, 1559, or 1604 rites. It is one of the alterations that the Restoration bishops made in the Prayer Book. The 1662 rite for private baptism of infants permits its use but does not require it, showing that the Restoration bishops themselves did not view it as essential to the validity or effectualness of the sacrament.

One criticism leveled at the 1662 Prayer of Consecration is its lack of a full-blown epiclesis of the Eastern Orthodox type, invoking the Holy Spirit for the purpose of consecrating the eucharistic elements. Such an epiclesis, however, is not essential to the validity or effectualness of the sacrament. It is a preference. From a Reformed perspective such an invocation is not Scriptural. The Scriptures contain no references to the invocation of the Holy Spirit for the purposes of consecrating inanimate objects. Even the references to Jesus’ blessing the bread and wine at the Last Supper are references to his giving thanks to God over the bread and wine. On the other hand, the Scriptures do contain references to people receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit being operative in people.

Arguments that the omission of these preferences from the rites in question is an impoverishment are specious.

The wording of the baptismal rite in Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings does not preclude the occurrence of regeneration at baptism. It, however, does not insist that regeneration automatically and invariably occurs at baptism, a position not consistent with the Scriptures. It is a rite that both Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals could use.

If a service book is going to meet the requirements of being a common liturgy for the denomination, its rites must be free from in-your-face elements—texts, wording, and rubrics that are boldly and defiantly aggressive in their expression of a particular doctrinal point of view. For example, the ordinal in Texts for Common Prayer substitutes “three offices” for “these offices” in the historic Preface to the Anglican Ordinal, thereby limiting its interpretation to that of one recognized school of Anglican thought and excluding that of another such school. This other recognized school of Anglican thought includes the English Reformers themselves. The ordinal in Texts for Common Prayer incorporates rubrics from the partially-reformed 1549 Prayer Book, which countenance Medieval Catholic practices that the English Reformers would eventually reject on scriptural grounds due to their doctrinal implications. The two forms for the service of Holy Communion in Texts for Common Prayer incorporate texts and rubrics from the Roman and Anglican Missals.

The alteration of the wording of the Anglican Ordinal’s Preface and the inclusion of these other elements in the rites in Texts for Common Prayer show a lack of sensitivity to the concerns of other recognized schools of Anglican thought and a corresponding shortage of due regard for their sensibilities. They reflect poorly upon the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force and the College of Bishops. The College of Bishop has endorsed these rites and their contents.

The original wording of the Anglican Ordinal’s Preface should have been left unchanged. The presentation of a chalice with the Bible in the ordination service for presbyters should have been made optional along with the vesting of the newly-made deacon with maniple, stole, and dalmatic in the ordination service for deacons; the prostration of the ordinand and vesting of the newly-ordained presbyter in stole and chasuble and the anointing of his hands in the ordination service for presbyters; the prostration of the bishop elect and presentation of the new bishop with  pastoral staff, anointing of his forehead, and his presentation with a pectoral cross, an episcopal ring, and a mitre in the consecration service for bishops. The rubrics for these postures and ceremonies and the accompanying texts should have been placed in a section at the end of the pertinent rite and with them a disclaimer that the Anglican Church in North America does not attach any particular doctrinal significance to these postures and ceremonies and they are not be understood as implying any doctrines other than those authorized by the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and/or The Book of Common Prayer of 1662. This would have permitted Anglo-Catholics and those of similar mind to use these postures and ceremonies but would have withheld the sanctioning of any doctrines associated with these practices not authorized by the Anglican formularies.

In the case of the texts and rubrics from the Roman and Anglican Missals even a cursory perusal of the liturgies listed in my article, “A Compendium of More Recent Anglican Liturgies,” shows that their inclusion was unwarranted.  A plethora of alternative texts and rubrics acceptable to most if not all recognized schools of Anglican thought are available.

North America has in the Continuum a raft of Independent Catholic Churches masquerading as Anglican Churches. It does need another such denomination. What North America is missing is a viable alternative to the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada that fully accepts the authority of the Scriptures and is committed to the protestant and reformed principles of the Anglican formularies.

A working group developing a common liturgy for a denomination needs to exhibit not only skill and cleverness in the way it handles the disparate views of the recognized schools of thought represented in the denomination but also finesse in how it deals with the varied contexts of the mission field. All Christian churches are on the mission field. The mission field stretches from within the walls of the building in which a church meets to distant lands. It encompasses all people groups.

Irrespective of whether they welcome and accept the role, all Christians are missionaries. They are missionaries to the members of their own families, their neighbors, to their friends, their co-workers and colleagues, their fellow students, to everyone in and outside their network of relationships. Being a missionary is an inseparable part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The profession of a Christian who does not see himself as a missionary and who does not live out the Great Commission in his own life is flawed. Christ did not establish his Church to serve the saved. He established the Church to reach the lost.

For a good introduction to the relationship of church and context, I recommend Ed Stetzer’s Planting Missional Churches and Ed Stetzer and David Putman’s Breaking the Missional Code. Both books emphasize that church planters need to become experts in the particular context in which they are planting a church if they hope to succeed in planting a church in that context. Those who do not pay adequate attention to context and adopt a “one-size-fits-all” model can expect to fail.

Churches that pay no attention their particular context do not grow. They decline and die. In Autopsy of a Deceased Church Thom Rainer identifies this characteristic as one of eleven signs of a church’s impending death.

The role of the denomination and its judicatories is not to do missionary work for local congregations but to support the local congregation’s missionary activities. They provide this support in a number of ways. One of these ways is to provide local congregations with the right kind of worship resources, resources that local congregations can adapt and use in their particular context. For an Anglican jurisdiction that has a serious commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission, the provision of these resources carries with it certain implications.

1. The worship resources must be in a language easily understood not only by the congregations that are using the resource but also by the ministry target group that they are trying to reach. They do not need worship resources that erect linguistic barriers between their ministry target group and themselves. Worship resources must be in contemporary English or whatever language the ministry target group speaks— Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Hmong, Cree, etc.

2. The worship resources must be Scriptural and theologically-sound. They should not just contain Scripture in the form of readings and songs from Scripture and Scriptural language and imagery. They should also teach what the Scriptures plainly teach, what can with certainty be read out of Scripture, what is without any ambiguity expressed by one or more of its human writers. They must reflect the application of the principles of interpreting Scripture by Scripture and not expounding one passage of Scripture in such a way that it disagrees with another.

The worship resources must not prescribe practices that are contrary to the Word of God or repugnant to God’s Word or permit such practices. A practice is contrary to Scripture when what is implies is contradictory or antithetical to what Scripture teaches. A practice is repugnant to Scripture when what implies is in conflict with, incompatible with, at variance with, or inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture. The Scriptures do not need to expressly prohibit a practice for the practice to be contrary to Scripture or repugnant to Scripture.

In cases where members of the denomination or the larger family of churches to which the denomination belongs have historically been divided over whether a practice is agreeable to the teaching of Scripture a good guiding principle is to not authorize the practice. This principle is consistent with Scripture. If the practice is not sanctioned, it will not offend anyone or cause anyone to stumble. While some may see the practice as harmless, others do not. This alone is sufficient reason not to authorize it. In this way the consciences of those who do view the practice as harmful is respected.

In order to be genuinely Anglican the worship resources in an Anglican jurisdiction must embody the protestant and reformed principles of the Anglican Church, which are based upon the Scriptures and which are set out in the Anglican formularies—the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and The Book of Common Prayer of 1662. Where they depart from these principles, they cannot be regarded as authentically Anglican.

3. The worship resources must offer a wide assortment of options from which those planning the worship of a congregation can choose not only patterns of worship but also the components for these worship patterns—sentences of Scripture, liturgical greetings, prayers, affirmations of faith, canticles, psalms, hymns, and other worship songs, and the like. Local congregations must have the flexibility that they need to tailor their worship gatherings to their circumstances and to their context.

In 1982 Michael Marshall, then Bishop of Woolwich, wrote Renewal in Worship. This seminal book examined the challenges that small churches face in the area of worship. Marshall offered a prescription for meeting these challenges. Among his recommendations was that small churches should not imitate the worship of large churches but should make their worship fit their circumstances—the building in which they were worshiping, the size of the congregation, its musical resources, the occasion, and so forth. He recommend that small churches also select music for their worship that they could expect to do well with their limited resources, and not attempt music that was beyond their reach.

Since that time churches large and small have come to recognize the importance of tailoring worship not just to the circumstances of the church but also to its context. A particular worship pattern may work in one context but not in another. Regional tastes and preferences in music may be a critical determinant in the selection of the best kind of worship music to use in a particular context. So may the age echelon of the ministry target group that church is trying to reach.

Among the implications is that the worship resources that a denomination produces for its churches should be sensitive to their needs. Their development should be informed by such needs and not by the particular interests of the working group commissioned to develop them.

I am saving my examination of how a number of Anglican provinces have responded to the challenges of developing a common liturgy for upcoming articles in this series. We will also look at what difficulties they have encountered and what ways a congregation might avoid or mitigate these difficulties.


Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy

As full-time pastors become a thing of the past, more and more seminary grads are taking on secular jobs to supplement their incomes.

For someone seeking a full-time job as a church pastor, Justin Barringer would seem to have the perfect résumé. He’s a seminary grad, an author and book editor, and a former missionary to China and Greece. But despite applying to nearly a hundred jobs over the course of two years, Barringer, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, could not secure a full-time, salaried church position.

So he splits his time among three jobs, working as a freelance editor, an employee at a nonprofit for the homeless, and a part-time assistant pastor at a United Methodist Church. “I am not mad at the church,” Barringer says. “However, I wish someone had advised me against taking on so much debt in order to be trained for ministry.”

Barringer’s story is becoming increasingly typical as Protestant churches nationwide cut back on full-time, salaried positions. Consequently, many new pastors either ask friends and family for donations (a time-honored clerical tradition) or take on other jobs. Working two jobs has become so common for clergy members, in fact, that churches and seminaries have a euphemistic term for it: bi-vocational ministry. Keep reading

Photo: David Wheeler

The Loss of Pastoral Credibility in the Age of the Internet

The Internet has introduced a new level of visibility to areas of our social life, exposing certain uncomfortable realities. Rod Dreher recently wrote a perceptive and troubling piece on the way that the Internet reveals corruption and abuse within the Church and other institutions, provoking a reaction of distrust and a loss of these institutions’ effective authority. While the dramatic collapses of trust in the institutional authority of the Church following the exposure and scrutiny of cases of abuse may receive the most attention, there are other ways—albeit slower and more gradual—in which this trust is being eroded. Perhaps the most significant of these in my experience has been our greater exposure to Church leaders and their thinking.

On Twitter earlier today, I remarked that the Internet exposes the fact that most people were never trained to function effectively in the context of an argument. As forms of discourse such as debate, disputation, and oral cross-examination are largely absent within people’s education, relatively few have the ability to keep a level head in an argument, to have a close rein on their passions, to spar with opposing viewpoints, to open their strongly held beliefs up to questioning and challenge, or to operate well in contexts that allow for the expression of many different perspectives and arguments. Keep reading

See also
Can Traditional Religion Survive A Wired World?

A Good Exit Strategy

What to do on your way out.

In April of 2010, I announced my resignation as lead pastor of a thriving congregation that I loved. We were experiencing significant God-momentum, with more people coming to faith in Christ and coming to our weekend services than ever before in our 95 year history. We were serving our community in substantial ways. Yet, I sensed God was calling me to another place of ministry. Pastors don't usually leave when momentum and congregational love is at a heightened level, but I did.

That church went without a lead pastor for nearly a year. The four other pastors on staff guided the church with skill and integrity, as they rotated the preaching and shared the leadership load. Some might think that a local church would tank without a senior leader, but the church continued to emanate vibrancy in worship and vitality in mission. I am convinced that the church's present health is due, in part, to how we weathered the transition from the announcement of my resignation until my last day as pastor 10 weeks later. If you are planning on resigning from the church you serve, here are some things to keep in mind on your way out. Keep reading

Four Principles for Leading the Change Resistant Church

The telephone call happened a while back. But it was representative of dozens of similar calls and emails I receive in the course of a year. The pastor was deeply frustrated. He was considering leaving his church, but was also dealing with the reality that the congregation may push him out as well.

He is a faithful pastor. He is doing all he can to lead his church to become a Great Commission congregation. But many members in the church believe their congregation has changed too much too quickly. They no longer recognize the church they loved. Keep reading

Missionary Sunday School: One Mission, His Story, Every Person Booklet - Free eBook; LifeWay Reader

Missionary Sunday School is the second book in a series that takes key principles from LifeWay's Transformational Church research initiative (the largest research project ever conducted on the North American protestant church) and offers practical suggestions on how your church's Sunday School ministry could become transformational.

While the first book, Transformational Class, briefly addressed all of the elements of Transformational Church and how they affect Sunday School, this second book in the series takes a closer look at just one of the elements: Missionary Mentality. Author David Francis strives to answer the question "What might a Sunday School class or small group look like if it saw itself as a missionary enterprise—thinking and acting out of a missionary mindset?" Learn more

Oak Hill Commentary Summer 2014 Online

The Summer 2014 edition of Oak Hill’s Commentary magazine is now online.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anglicans Ablaze Weekend Edition: July 26, 2014

In this weekend's edition of Anglicans Ablaze:

A Compendium of More Recent Anglican Liturgies

By Robin G. Jordan

A wealth of liturgical material is available on the Internet for examination, comparison, adaptation, and use. The following list and accompanying links is far from exhaustive. What I have included in this list should give readers a slight idea as to what is available.

With the exception of The Book of Common Prayer (1662), this liturgical material dates from the mid-twentieth century on. I have included the 1662 Book of Common Prayer because it is not only an authorized service book of a number of Anglican Provinces but also it is a classical formulary of the Anglican Church. With the Articles of Religion of 1571 and the Ordinal of 1661, it forms the doctrinal standard of Anglicanism.

The two Books of Homilies can be included in this standard as they expound upon the doctrine of the Articles of Religion (Article 11). The Articles of Religion commend them as containing “a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times” (Article 35).

The Jerusalem Declaration (2008) upholds the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as “a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.” Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, the official commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration, stresses that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is such a standard “because the principles it embodies are fundamentally theological and biblical.” The 1662 Prayer Book also “provides a standard by which other liturgies may be tested and measured." While we should not expect liturgical uniformity throughout the global community of Anglican Churches, we should expect to find a common theological basis.

A form of corporate worship bears a family resemblance to the 1662 Prayer Book in so far as it reflects the principles underlying the liturgy of that book. Only liturgies that reflect these principles stand in continuity with the 1662 Prayer Book. A liturgy may superficially resemble the 1662 Prayer Book such as use texts from that book but not reflect its underlying principles.

Among the material that I have listed is material of particular interest because it illustrates how a number of Anglican provinces have responded to the particular challenges of developing a liturgy or Prayer Book. This includes dramatic shifts in the culture of a particular Anglican province. In a number of cases it confirms my own observations about existing and proposed rites and services of the Anglican Church in North America or shows alternative ways of wording a rite or service.

I have also included in the list The Book of Divine Worship, which adapts a number of Episcopal rites and services for use in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Book of Common Prayer The Church of England—1662

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is the third revision of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s reformed vernacular liturgy, which represents the mature thinking of the man who has been described as the architect of the English Reformation. In The Shape of the Liturgy Anglo-Catholic liturgist Dom Gregory Dix begrudgingly acknowledges:
"Compared with the clumsy and formless rites which were evolved abroad, that of 1552 is the masterpiece of an artist. Cranmer gave it a noble form as a superb piece of literature, which no one could say of its companions; but he did more. As a piece of liturgical craftsmanship it is in the first rank-once its intention is understood. It is not a disordered attempt at a catholic rite, but the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of 'justification by faith alone'."
Historically the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is the widest-used Prayer Book in the global community of Anglican Churches. The 1662 Prayer Book has been translated into numerous languages. It has been described as the “classical Anglican Prayer Book.”

Online at:

The People’s Order of the Mass and Other Prayers—1965

This publication dates from the beginning of the episcopate of Bernard Markham who was Lord Bishop of Nassau and the Bahamas from 1962 to 1972. It reveals the strong influence of Anglo-Catholicism in the West Indies. Compare the Order of Mass with the trial services of Holy Communion in the Anglican Church in North America’s Texts for Common Prayer.

Occasional Offices Church of the Province of Papua New Guinea—1976

Compare the Form for the Admission of Catechumens with the proposed rite for the Admission of Catechumens of the Anglican Church in North America.

The Holy Eucharist: The Liturgy for the Proclamation of the Word of God and Celebration of the Holy Communion The Church of the Province of Central Africa—1976

Note the prayers at the offertory in this order for the Eucharist. They are taken from the Roman Missal and are an example of the unnecessary accretions that this ancillary rite has a propensity to accumulate. They are entirely superfluous, add nothing to the service, give unwarranted emphasis to the offertory, and draw attention away from the high point of the liturgy of the Table—the sharing of bread and wine in obedience to Christ’s command, ”Do this in remembrance of me.”The offertory, also known as the presentation of the gifts and the preparation of the Table should not be allowed to overshadow the setting apart and distribution of the communion elements. 

Two other ancillary rites in the Eucharist share this propensity. They are the entrance rite and the closing rite.

Among the effects of the accumulation of unnecessary accretions in the entrance rite is that the liturgy does not get off to a good start and proceeds at an avoidable slow pace. This can throw off the whole flow of the service. Among the effects of the accumulation of unnecessary accretions in the closing rite is that they can drag out the end of the service, which should come to a swift conclusion after the distribution of communion.

The result is that the congregation experiences the service as being tiresomely long and drawn-out. First-time worship visitors may choose not to return for a second visit.  Arguments like “this is a part of our worship” will not persuade them to come back again.

An Australian Prayer Book The Anglican Church of Australia--1978

An Australian Prayer Book (1978) was designed to supplement the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and not to replace it. For the Anglican Church of Australia the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles are “the controlling standard of doctrine and worship.”

The compilers of An Australian Prayer Book adopted two lines of revision—one conservative and the other radical. The rites and services contained in An Australian Prayer Book reflect both lines of revision.

Among these rites and services are 1662 services of Morning and Evening and Holy Communion in contemporary English. As well as two forms of Morning and Evening Prayer, An Australia Prayer Book contains an alternative form of morning and evening worship, Another Order of Service for Prayer and the Hearing of God’s Word.

The Book of Common Prayer The Episcopal Church—1979

This Prayer Book is the fourth Prayer Book adopted by the Episcopal Church in its 200 hundred odd year history. While the 1979 Prayer Book is a more substantial revision than its predecessor, the 1928 Prayer Book, its compilers were following the precedent of the compilers of the 1928 Prayer Book who introduced a number of radical changes into the American Prayer Book with that revision. 

Both books show the influence of the nineteenth century Catholic Revival. The 1979 Prayer Book also shows the influence of the Liturgical Movement.

Among the changes that the 1979 Prayer Book instituted was the introduction of two rite for the most common services—Rite I in traditional or Jacobean English and Rite II in contemporary English. The 1979 Prayer Book also adopted the structure for the service of Holy Communion, recommended by the 1958 Lambeth Conference.

The Episcopal Church did not appreciate the attachment of a segment of its members to the 1928 Prayer Book and the extent of their dislike of the new Prayer Book. Among the fallout of Prayer Book revision and women’s ordination, which was approved at the 1976 General Convention, the same General Convention that gave the 1979 Prayer Book its initial approval,  was an exodus of those Episcopalians who were the unhappiest with these changes. The present-day Continuing Anglican Churches can be traced to this exodus.

On a personal note I drifted away from the Episcopal Church before the turmoil of Prayer Book revision and returned to the denomination six years after this exodus. One of the things that drew me back to the Episcopal Church in the mid-1980s was its use of contemporary English in its liturgy. I had three elementary school age girls in tow who unlike myself had never been exposed to the traditional or Jacobean English of the 1662 and 1928 Prayer Books or the King James Bible. I had learned the language of the 1662 Prayer Book and King James Bible as a second language from infancy. In the England of my childhood it was one of three languages a child learned—the King’s English, or Standard English; Prayer Book English; and the local dialect.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is not only used in the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe but also in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, the Communion of the Convergence Anglican Church, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, and the Anglican Church in North America.

The Charismatic Episcopal Church and the Communion of the Convergence Anglican Church are denominations connected to the convergence movement. The Anglican Mission in the Americas and the Anglican Church in North America are breakaway groups that seceded from the Episcopal Church due to the ascendancy of liberalism in the denomination, its departure from biblical teaching, and its normalization of homosexuality. The latter is evidenced in the denomination’s ordination of practicing homosexuals, its consecration of an openly gay man to the episcopate, its blessing of same sex relationships, and its advocacy of gay marriage.

The 1979 Prayer Book influenced the liturgies of a number of Anglican provinces. It is the most widely-used service book in the Anglican Church in North America.

Alternative Service Book 1980 The Church of England—1980

Only the Calendar and Rules to Order the Service, General Notes, Morning and Evening Prayer, the Order for Holy Communion Rite A, Initiation Services, and the Liturgical Psalter of the Alternative Service Book 1980 are available on the Internet. The Order for Holy Communion Rite A includes the four eucharistic prayers of the rite and its appendices, which include the Proper Prefaces, the Commandments, variations of the Kyrie Eleison, a fifth eucharistic prayer, and a number of alternative or additional texts.

Scottish Liturgies The Scottish Episcopal Church—1982, pre-1982, and post-1982

A number of liturgies are available for download on the Scottish Episcopal Church website in PDF and Word format. Among these liturgies are  Scottish Liturgy 1929, also known as the Scottish Communion Office, several editions of Scottish Liturgy 1982, Scottish Ordinal 1984, Holy Baptism 2006, Affirmation of Holy Baptism 2006, Marriage Liturgy 2007, and Service of the Word 2011.

Anglican Church of Canada Liturgical Texts Online—1985 and later

The Book of Alternative Services (1985), Occasional Celebrations (1992) Supplementary Eucharistic Prayers, Services of the Word, and Night Prayer (2001), and other supplementary resources are available for download on the Anglican Church of Canada website. The Book of Alternative Services “has become the primary worship text for Sunday services and other major liturgical celebrations of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Book of Common Prayer (1962) of the Anglican Church of Canada is also available for download. It remains the official Prayer Book of the Anglican Church of Canada.

One of the better features of The Book of Alternative Services is its flexible structure for services of Morning and Evening Prayer. It is suitable for the Sunday service of both large and small congregations. It is particularly friendly to the needs of house-church congregations in remote area. It permits the adaption of the services of Morning and Evening Prayer to the circumstances of the persons, the place, and the occasion.

Service of Holy Communion Anglican Church of Kenya—1989

This service of Holy Communion was incorporated into Our Modern Service (2002, 2003), which is a good example of the application of the principle of cultural adaptation. Among the notable features of the service’s eucharistic prayer is its epiclesis, “Pour your refreshing Spirit on us as we remember him in the way he commanded through these gifts of your creation.” This petition is thoroughly Scriptural, as opposed to the epicleses that petition God to bless or sanctify the bread and wine with his Holy Spirit. See A Prayer Book for Thailand—1989 for further discussion of the liturgical invocation of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of consecrating the eucharistic elements. Our Modern Services is a gold mine of new prayers, especially prayers for mission and renewal.

The rites and services of Our Modern Services may be longer than those to which Westerners are accustomed. This reflects a difference in perception of time. Africans are less concerned with the passage of time as Westerners are.

My cousin is with the British Foreign Service and she was stationed in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for a number of years. She reports that it is completely different world from modern-day Britain. Zairians did not live at the hurried, frenetic pace of modern Brits, with one eye on the clock. What mattered to them was not the pace at which something was done or even finishing it but forming, renewing, and strengthening relationships.  

What is notable about the other liturgies from Africa and those from the West Indies is their length. This is points to cultural difference. Such differences also explain the length of rites and services in the sixteenth century Prayer Books.

English society was more agrarian and rural in the sixteenth century than it is today. Life in sixteenth century England moved at more unhurried pace. Portable timepieces, while not unknown, were not common in sixteenth century England. Country folks judged the passage of time by the movement of the sun and towns people by the striking of the hours of the tower clock.

Going to church and listening to a sermon represented a welcome break from the people’s everyday routine and served as a form of entertainment. Twenty-first century North American congregations would not be able to handle the troika of Morning Prayer, Litany, and Ante-Communion that was the steady diet of English congregations upon the ascension of Elizabeth I to the throne and the adoption of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer.

A New Zealand Prayer Book (He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa)—1989

At the time A New Zealand Prayer Book was published, it was hailed as the future of Prayer Book revision.

Reviews of A New Zealand Prayer Book draw attention to its adaptation of the Prayer Book to Maori culture, its use of gender-inclusive and affirming language, its avoidance of gender-specific references to God, its softening of “power language,” its avoidance of “he” in the Psalms and the substitution of “you” for “he” in addressing God, and its replacement of “Zion” and “Israel.” It has not only been criticized for changing these references but also for softening the Baptismal rite.

Due to the beauty and simplicity of number of its prayers A New Zealand Prayer Book has enjoyed widespread usage in the Episcopal Church and other denominations as manual for private devotions.

A Prayer Book for Thailand—1989

A Prayer Book for Thailand is based on the Alternative Service Book 1980 of the Church of England. The ASB 1980 contains a number of eucharistic prayers and other alternative texts. A Prayer Book for Thailand has only one eucharistic prayer and a much smaller number of other alternative texts. Note how the eucharistic prayer avoids invoking the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon the bread and the wine. In place of such invocation it contains this petition: “…grant by the power of your Holy Spirit these gifts of bread and wine may be to us his body and blood….”

In the Scriptures we find no account of the Holy Spirit’s descending upon animals or inanimate objects. But we do find a number of accounts of the Holy Spirit’s falling upon people or working in people. From this perspective petitioning God to bless or sanctify the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper with his Holy Spirit is not agreeable to the teaching of the Scriptures. God does not send his Holy Spirit upon inanimate objects.

The petition substituted for the invocation of the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon the eucharistic elements does not exclude the operation of the Holy Spirit from the sacrament but does avoid this longstanding error. It is also consistent with the teaching of the Scriptures and the Anglican formularies that the eucharistic elements do not undergo a change of substance at consecration nor is anything added to them. They remain bread and wine. Their being for us Christ’s Body and Blood is a spiritual operation.

The Liturgy of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) The Order for Holy Communion or Eucharist—1990

The influence of the Alternative Service Book 1980 and the Roman Missal are discernible in this liturgy. By Western standards it is a lengthy rite. See my discussion of the differences in the perception of time in Western and African cultures. Also applicable to the rite is my discussion of how ancillary rites like the entrance, the offertory, and concluding rites of the Eucharist accumulate unnecessary accretions that distort the over-all shape of the rite.

The Anglican Service Book The Episcopal Church—1991

The Anglican Service Book renders a number of liturgical texts from the 1979 Prayer Book into Jacobean or traditional English and supplements these texts with material from various editions of the Anglican Missal and the modern Roman Rite. A comparison of its contents, the contents of other Anglo-Catholic-influenced service books, and the contents of The Book of Divine Worship with the contents of the trial services of Holy Communion in Texts for Common Prayer support my contention that these services are unreformed Catholic in their eucharistic doctrine and may be used to teach Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic eucharistic doctrine.

Online at:

Prayer Book of the Church of England in South Africa—1992

This modest collection of rites and services was developed as an alternative to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which is also an authorized Prayer Book of the former Church of England in South Africa, now known as the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa, or REACH South Africa.

REACH South Africa grew out of the Church of England congregations that chose to remain faithful to the Protestant and Reformed principles of the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and not to join the Church of the Province of South Africa in 1870. Like the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States and the Free Church of England in the United Kingdom, it was an outgrowth of the nineteenth-century struggles between Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals over what should be the identity of the Anglican Church in their part of the world.

The Preface to the Prayer Book of the Church of England in South Africa contains this statement:
“No doctrine or practices may be construed or based on the revised services, apart from those authorized by the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and/or the Book of Common Prayer 1662."
A similar statement is found on the copyright page of An English Prayer Book (1994).  

The Prayer Book of the Church of England in South Africa includes the late Philip Edgcombe Hughes’ A Restatement of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. Hughes, a leading Anglican evangelical theologian and scholar, author of many books, and professor at various seminaries, prepared this rendering of the Articles in contemporary English for the Church of England in South Africa in 1988. It is also printed at the back of Hughes’ Theology of the English Reformers.

An English Prayer Book Church Society—1994

An English Prayer Book (1994) is the conservative evangelical Church Society’s unofficial contribution to the revision the Alternative Book 1980. This revision produced Common Worship in 2000. Among its notable features are a form for Family Worship and two orders of Infant Baptism and order of Adult Baptism that avoid the language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer which Anglo-Catholics argue teaches the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.

The Articles of Religion are printed in the back of An English Prayer Book followed by a modern English equivalent or commentary. A disclaimer states:
"The latter is provided solely for the purpose of making the Articles more easily understood. The standing or authority of the Articles as set out in the Book of Common Prayer is in no way to be interpreted as diminished or undermined."
Online at:

Holy Eucharist The Province of the West Indies—1995

This rite shows the influence of the Alternative Service Book 1980 and to lesser extent the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. While reflecting the strong influence of Anglo-Catholicism in the Province of West Indies, it drops a number of liturgical elements from the Roman Missal and Anglican Missal discernible in The People’s Order of the Mass and Other Prayers (1965). The rite is a lengthy one, which may be a reflection not only of the strong Anglo-Catholic influence in the rite but also the particular cultural milieu.

Enriching Our Worship 1 The Episcopal Church—1998

The language and imagery of the eucharistic prayers in this collection of supplemental liturgical material authorized by the Episcopal Church as well as the wording of the eucharistic rites themselves have stirred up controversy.

One of Enriching Our Worship 1’s positive features is that it recognizes that service leaders and worship planners have a tendency to use the first option if they are given a number of options. To encourage the greater use of other canticles of praise in the entrance rite of the 1979 Eucharist beside Gloria in excelsis, Digus es is printed in place of Gloria in excelsis in the entrance rite.

The invariable use of Gloria in excelsis is a peculiarity of the Roman Church. The Gallican Church used a variable canticles of praise in the entrance rite. The entrance rite of the 1979 Eucharist is modeled on the Gallican Rite, not the Roman Rite. The use of a variable canticle of praise in the entrance rite of the 1979 Eucharist is in line with the model upon which it is based.

The controversy surrounding the wording of the rites and services in Enriching Our Worship 1 and its departure from biblical teaching and Anglican traditions of expression, however, overshadowed its better features.

Common Worship The Church of England—2000

The Introduction to Communion Worship states:
Common Worship is not just another prayer book, but a series of volumes which aims to provide a wide variety of prayers and liturgical resources for use within a common framework and common structures. This allows individual churches to tailor services to their own setting and culture and the needs of their particular congregations.
These volumes include New Patterns of Worship, which provides the authorized text of A Service of the Word with notes and instructions on how to put it together, a guide for planning and preparing A Service of the Word and other liturgies, liturgical material for A Service of the Word, and notes for its use, and sample services.

A Service of the Word was developed to meet the needs of congregations which find that the services of Morning and Evening Prayer and Holy Communion do not meet their needs. Its precursor was the Family Service conducted in a number of Church of England parishes from the 1970s on. A Service of the Word may be used on its own or as the Liturgy of the Word of a celebration of Holy Communion.

Enriching Our Worship 2 The Episcopal Church—2000

Readers will have to judge for themselves the strengths and weaknesses of the burial service for a child in Enriching Our Worship 2. I have not had an opportunity to examine it. I included it with Enriching Our Worship 3 and Enriching Our Worship 4 as examples of the supplemental liturgical material that the Episcopal Church’s Standing Liturgical Commission has produced since the publication of Enriching Our Worship 1.

Sunday Services A Contemporary Liturgical Resource Diocese of Sydney—2001

This collection of resources is the work of the Diocese of Sydney’s Liturgical Panel. A number of its sections are based on An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and its sources and A Prayer Book for Australia (1995). Its aim is “to provide a liturgy which is biblical in content, intelligible in language and appropriate to our time and culture.”

The Book of Divine Worship The Roman Catholic Church— 2003

This Anglican Use service book was developed for the use of the personal parishes of former Episcopalians established under Pope John Paul II’s Pastoral Provision of 1980. It combines material from the 1928 and 1979 Prayer Books with eucharistic prayers from the Roman Missal and the medieval Sarum Rite. The first edition ws published in 1987.

The Book of Occasional Services The Episcopal Church—2003

The Book of Occasional Services (2003) is an updated and revised version of The Book of Occasional Services (1994). According to the Church Publishing website, “this new edition includes the liturgies for Discernment for a New Church Mission; A Liturgy for Commissioning a Church Planter, Missioner or Mission Team; A Liturgy for the Opening of a New Congregation; Setting Apart Secular Space for Sacred Use; a new Litany for the Mission of the Church; and a variety of Church Planting collects, blessings and other prayers, and hymn suggestions.”

Compare its rite for the Admission of Catechumen (p. 117) with the proposed ACNA rite for the Admission of Catechumen.

Church of South India Liturgy—2004 and earlier

Both the CSI liturgy adopted in 2004 and the CSI liturgy before 2004 are found online. The Book of Common Worship (1962) of the Church of South India marks a liturgical watershed. It anticipates a new generation of Anglican liturgies that were produced from the 1960s on. These liturgies would incorporate the recommendations of the 1958 Lambeth Conference regarding the structure of the service of Holy Communion. The three alternative forms of morning and evening worship found in The Book of Common Worship are also a precursor of the Services of the Word found in a number of more recent Anglican service books. (Another forerunner of these services is the two alternative forms of evening worship found in the 1926 Irish Prayer Book.)

Compare the CSI Office of Making a Catechumen (pre-2004) and rite for Receiving a Candidate for Baptism (2004) at the beginning of the CSI rite for the Baptism of Adults with the proposed ACNA rite for the Admission of Catechumens.

The Book of Common Prayer The Church of Ireland—2004

The 2004 Irish Prayer Book incorporates material from its predecessor, the 1926 Irish Prayer Book, as well as contains new material. The rites and services from the 1926 Irish Prayer Book are in traditional or Jacobean English and a number of the rubrics have been changed. The new material is in contemporary English and comes from the Church of Ireland’s An Alternative Prayer Book (1984) and other sources. A number of the rites and services in the 2004 Irish Prayer Book are also available on the Internet in Gaelige, or Irish.

One peculiar feature of Morning Prayer 2 and Evening Prayer 2 is that the two services have three readings and the first reading is inserted between the Invitatory Psalm and the other Psalms. While this feature gives Morning Prayer 2 and Evening Prayer 2 a common structure with the other liturgies of the Word found in the 2004 Irish Prayer Book, it interrupts the flow of the service, as well as represents a departure from the longstanding pattern of Anglican Morning and Evening Prayer—praise, proclamation, and prayer. In Morning Prayer 2 and Evening Prayer 2 proclamation follows the invitation to praise and what may be an extended period of praise (if more than one Psalm is used) follows proclamation.

The result can be a lengthy delay between the first reading and second reading and a response to the first reading that gives undue emphasis to that reading. The canticle or psalm that follows each reading in Morning and Evening Prayer is a response to the reading.

The other liturgies of the Word that share this structure do not suffer from the problem of a protracted response to the first reading since their rubrics do not permit such a response. There is no interruption in the flow of the service or lengthy delay between the first reading and the second reading.

Like Common Worship the 2004 Irish Prayer Book provides guidelines for a Service of the Word that may be used in place of the services of Morning and Evening Prayer and Holy Communion. Worship planners putting together this service may use liturgical material from Common Worship as well as the 2004 Irish Prayer Book.

Holy Eucharist 2004 The Church in Wales—2004

Holy Eucharist 2004, the revised eucharistic rite of the Church in Wales, is available as a download on the Church in Wales’ Downloads page on its website. So are the two-volume 1984 Book of Common Prayer and a number of other liturgies used in the Church in Wales. Holy Eucharist 2004 also contains the Order for the Holy Eucharist 1984.

Enriching Our Worship 3 The Episcopal Church—2006

Readers will have to judge for themselves the strengths and weaknesses of the adult burial service in Enriching Our Worship 3.  Like Enriching Our Worship 2 I have not had an opportunity to examine it.

Enriching Our Worship 4 The Episcopal Church—2006

I have made only a cursory examination of the rite for the Renewal of Ministry with the Welcoming of a New Rector in Enriching Our Worship 4. What I noted that was the rite does not use the Trinitarian opening acclamation of the Holy Eucharist Rites I and II in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. I did not complete a thorough evaluation of its theology. The rite itself serves a need and any problems in its theology can be corrected with carefully done invisible mending.

Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings The Diocese of Sydney—2012

Produced by the Archbishop of Sydney's Liturgical Panel, this collection of resources is a development and expansion of Sunday Services (2001).

A description of the collection on the Christian Education Publications website sites:
The apostles urge the gathering of believers to engage with Christ and each other through teaching, prayer and song, as they meet together in his name. At the centre of it all is the word of Christ, the gospel.

Common Prayer is presented to the churches as a resource for such gospel-shaped gatherings in the evangelical Anglican tradition.

Online at:

The abundance of Anglican liturgical material available on the Internet places the development of a biblically faithful, mission-oriented Anglican service book for an alternative jurisdiction to the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada well within the reach of a working group commissioned for that purpose