General Synod has approved three supplementary eucharistic prayers for a three-year trial, concluding at the 2001 synod.
The Faith, Worship and Ministry committee has been directed to report on the use and reception of the prayers to synod. Any use of the supplementary liturgical material will be at the discretion of the bishop.
The committee has also been asked to prepare, in consultation with other denominations, collects appropriate for use in the three-year cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary. The idea is that the three-year cycle will allow for a greater use of images and themes and will give more prominence to the theme of each day.
The supplementary prayers are in response to a call by the 1995 General Synod for the creation of eucharistic prayers reflecting a Reformed theological conscience and prayers inclusive in language and images.
The term “Reformed” refers to a theological culture strongly influenced by the 16th century Christian leader John Calvin.
An inclusive prayer is taken to mean one which includes all members of the church community, through word and symbol.
“There are different ways of conveying inclusivity,” a faith committee report states.
“We approached the task by attempting to incorporate various images of God and God’s work in a balanced way. Our aim was to use the resources of the Christian tradition to support the language of prayers, within the Trinitarian structure of our eucharistic prayers.”
Synod also approved a three-year trial period for two Services of the Word in response to a BAS Evaluation Commission request for a Service of the Word as the main Sunday act of worship.
One of the supplementary prayers is described as an expanded and more “user-friendly” version of the Morning and Evening prayer in the Book of Alternative Services. It is designed for simplicity and minimal preparation.
The second service conforms more closely to the shape of the liturgy of the Word in the Eucharist and is simple in design.
Despite assurances that the proposed liturgical material is supplementary, is for trial use only and contains a built-in option for acceptance or rejection, some synod members still had reservations about its content.
Diane Brookes of the Diocese of the Arctic said she would be sorry to see any attempt to remove the word “Father” from the prayers.
“Many people believe in the same God but Christians are the only people asked to call him Father,” she said. “It makes us a unique people. I’d hate to see it lost.”
Archdeacon Sean Murphy of Yukon said the new material contained ambiguities about the person of Christ and the nature of the Trinity. “Weak and ambiguous liturgy makes weak and ambiguous Anglicans,” Archdeacon Murphy said.