At the 71st General Convention in 1994, The Episcopal Church first authorized trial use of the Revised Common Lectionary. In 2006, the Revised Common Lectionary became the lectionary of this church by A077. By 2010, the Commission on Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Texas, along with others, was understandably increasingly anxious for both a Lectionary and a Gospel Book of the new RCL in Spanish.
Anthony Guillen had tried to get it published through his office, but he was told that he had to find the funding as CPG did not have this on their radar.
Six years after the publication of the books in English, two clergy were working on the compilation and translation of the Spanish version at St. Mark’s Press in Kansas. There was, however, no commitment or funds to publish, but at least they were working on putting it all together. Texas funds helped to support this compilation effort after the limited financial support for the translation efforts fell through.
Somewhere along the way, Forward Movement offered to fund and publish the RCL Lectionary and Gospel Book in Spanish, but they were told by CPG that they owned the rights to publish these books.
In November 2012, we reached out to CPG. They indicated that the Spanish version was “not economic” for CPG to publish. Now, one can only assume this was because they looked at each language version (English, Spanish, French) on a stand-alone economic basis.
One would have thought that the rationale that TEC had adopted the RCL, and that there are major portions of our church that speak other languages besides English should have been sufficient.
The economic calculation could have gone like this:
We need to publish simultaneously in all pertinent languages for the sake of the mission of the Church.
What is the cost per book (regardless of language) to make this happen?
One can only wonder what small additional amount of money we could have required for the English versions to fund the Spanish and French at the same time.
CPG also referred us to Church Publishing. All they could say was, “We’re hopeful, please check back in a few months.”
A few months later, in February of 2013, Church Publishing acknowledged in emails that they were not directly involved in this project and referred us elsewhere.
CPG finally published both books in 2016 – ten years after the English versions.
At this 79th General Convention, we are having a conversation about our common life of prayer without having done the work to prepare the whole church to have this conversation together.
I am not just talking about carelessness in the provision of translated materials and translators at this Convention. I am talking about the dearth of beautiful translations of the 1979 BCP. I am talking about the fact that when we want to work on marriage liturgies, we invest money and time in theological work. When we want to add some liturgies from Latino communities to the BOS, we present liturgies but not careful theological work to the Church. I am talking about the fact that we do not have translations of Enriching Our Worship or the other liturgical supplements through which the church can experience inclusive and expansive language in liturgy – and the House of Deputies just passed a resolution C024 that merely requests that the SCLM consider bringing a resolution for that translation to the next General Convention for our consideration. When will we have those translations – by 2024?
We are perpetuating the same mistakes in our work going forward. We are about to do more work on the lectionary, see A217. We have passed or will pass the following liturgical materials with no plans or money for translations: Book of Occasional Services, Armenian Rite for Holy Cross Day, Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.
I do hear the urgency of some around the need for inclusive and expansive language, but I also hear from some of the bilingual Latino young adults from Spanish-speaking congregations in my diocese that they don’t know exactly what we are talking about and that they have a hard time imagining what it would look like in their worshipping communities.
And the truth is that we are talking about their Prayer Book, and the only way to prepare them and their communities to enter this conversation is to offer them translations that they can live with and pray with for a time in their communities. The future of this country is a minority majority population, and so when we leave Latinas off of the Subcommittee for Theology and Language of the HOD Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation, we are failing to prepare for the future. When we have zero native Spanish speakers on the Committee to Receive the Report on A169 and no members of Province IX or VII on the SCLM, we are failing to prepare for that future. When we do liturgical work without Spanish-speaking communities, and say, “Here’s a translation,” we are not preparing for the future.
The present generation of leaders may be about to embark on a project to create an inclusive and expansive language liturgical resource for the whole Church, even after they have neglected certain inclusive conversations around liturgy, theology, mission, and marriage. We need to repent of these things left undone and do some learning from voices unheard, so that we can do the work of changing our life of common prayer together.
The phrase, “this is a justice issue” gets thrown around a lot here at General Convention. However, this is in fact a justice issue, and it is an urgent mission priority for our Church if we seek to remain united by our common worship life.