We don’t know what a revised Book of Common Prayer (BCP) will look like.
Despite the passage of A068 in the House of Deputies (HOD) with all of its resolves directing the SCLM 2.0 (the SCLM plus a bishop and one other representative from Province IX) to seek more expansive language for God, a better representation of the range of diversity in the church, care for God’s creation, and to hew to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, we do not know what the revised BCP will look like. Despite whatever may emerge from the House of Bishops (HOB), we do not know what the a revised BCP will look like. We don’t.
This truth does not seem to alleviate the waves of anxiety rippling through the Convention and across the blogosphere and memosphere. Comments on the floor of the HOD reflected a variety of anxieties that some group will be left out of the final revised BCP – whether it’s the person who wants to address “God, our Mother” in front of a tie-dye frontal or it’s the person who wants to address “God, our Father” with a baroque painting of two white guy and a bird hanging in the background. We are all speaking, writing social media posts, and composing Memorials based on what we imagine and fear that the BCP will look like.
If myriad nightmare visions of the future BCP are swirling in your brain, we would humbly ask that you breathe and put your hope in the Lord. The final BCP has not, nor will it be, written at the 79th General Convention.
The BCP will be the product of a process, and, should A068 pass, the Church will need your energies and your voice in that process.
The opportunity of this moment is to do some deep reflection about how we will have this conversation as one Church together – together as speakers of many languages, together as people of different generations, together as citizens of different nations. What will this process look like, and who will hold the drive it? Currently, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music lacks members from Province VII (the most populous province in the Church) and Province IX. How will the process of consultation and reception be conducted? In the past, we have done the revision, translated the book (eventually), and said, “Here you go!” to those who worship in languages other than English. Will we take the time in this process to incorporate the reflection, practice, and theology of non-English speakers into the conversation in a real way?
Process is boring. Talking about process is not as fun as posting manifestos or forwarding memes. However, the process of BCP revision is what will produce a new BCP. Assuming some version of A068 emerges in the final days of Convention, it should not mark the end of our discussion of BCP revision. May this be the beginning of an inclusive and expansive conversation.