Episcopal Church Holds Off on Prayer Book Gender Language Revision; Calls for New Liturgical Texts Instead
The Episcopal Church has held off on editing their Book of Common Prayer to possibly remove gender specific language for God. Instead, they passed a resolution encouraging the creation of new liturgies.
At the mainline denomination's 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, the House of Deputies approved a resolution calling for revising their Book of Common Prayer to include more "inclusive and expansive language" for both God and humanity.
The House of Bishops created their own resolution language, which among other things resolved to "memorialize" the 1979 Book of Common Prayer which involves "preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian Formularies ensuring its continued use."
The bishops approved the revised amendment on Tuesday and the deputies passed it overwhelmingly via voice vote on Wednesday.
In addition to preserving the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, they approved a measure called for the introduction of revised liturgies and the creation of the Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision.
The Task Force will be comprised of members of both Episcopal Houses and will give reports to the 80th General Convention, scheduled to meet in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2021.
"... the TFLPBR in consultation with the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons is directed to propose to the 80th General Convention revisions to the Constitution and Canons to enable The Episcopal Church to be adaptive in its engagement of future generations of Episcopalians," noted the approved amendment. "That liturgical and Prayer Book revision will continue in faithful adherence to the historic rites of the Church Universal as they have been received and interpreted within the Anglican tradition of 1979 Book of Common Prayer ..."
Last Saturday, the House of Deputies passed Resolution A068, which originally called for revisions to the denomination's Book of Common Prayer so that, among other things, it included more gender neutral language for God.
If enacted, the denomination was going to appropriate approximately $1.9 million to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for the 2019–2021 Triennium to work on the process, with some estimating that the final cost would be as high as $8 million.
Many have expressed opposition to the revision proposal, with some noting that adding more gender inclusive language for God runs contrary to Scripture and tradition.
"Jesus calls God 'father,' so are we who have never seen God right? And Jesus wrong? After all, He said no one has seen God but the one and only Son," noted one commenter on the Episcopal News Service website. "If Jesus calls him father then so will I."