Retiring liturgist managed Common Praise hymnal project

By on December 1, 2007

Rev. Paul Gibson retires at the end of this month as co-ordinator for liturgy for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), a position which he held for about 20 years.

As co-ordinator for liturgy, Mr. Gibson’s work involved monitoring liturgical revision and developments; he also functioned as secretary to the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation.

Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded Mr. Gibson the Cross of St. Augustine, one of the Anglican Communion’s highest honours historically given by the Church of England to clergy and lay people of foreign churches who have contributed “to advancing friendly relations with the churches of the Anglican Communion.”

Mr. Gibson began working for the ACC on a part-time basis while working as liturgical officer for the Anglican Church of Canada.

“There was a call in the communion for a liturgical commission which would review worship changes, especially as they are reflected in liturgical texts, throughout the communion,” he said. As the communion did not have an adequate budget for the commission, then Canadian primate Michael Peers offered Mr. Gibson to the communion on a one-half to one-third time basis.

Mr. Gibson said a major piece of his work at the ACC involved the collection of Anglican liturgical resources, which charts developments in liturgy since 1960.

“A commission, had one been appointed, would have found it difficult to work without such a collection and there are already signs that it will be useful to scholars in the future,” he said. He added he was grateful to another Canadian, Karen Evans, librarian at the church’s national office in Toronto, “for the care she has devoted to the task of cataloguing this material professionally.”

As the Canadian church’s liturgical officer from 1982 to 1998, Mr. Gibson served as editor of the Book of Alternative Services and manager of the 1998 hymnbook project, Common Praise.

He also served the church as principal of the Hong Kong-based Union Theological College, Anglican chaplain at Montreal’s McGill University, rector of St. George’s, Hannon, in the diocese of Niagara; and Anglican chaplain at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

Born in Guelph, Ont., Mr. Gibson received a licentiate in theology at St. Chad’s Theological College in Regina, and a bachelor of arts in English and history at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que. He was ordained a priest in the diocese of Niagara in 1957.

Mr. Gibson has authored many articles and books, most recently, Discerning the Word: The Bible and Homosexuality in the Anglican Debate, published in 2000.

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