`One Church - One Book'

By Stackhouse, Reginald | Anglican Journal, September 1999 | Go to article overview

`One Church - One Book'


Stackhouse, Reginald, Anglican Journal


It is time for to be one church with one book again: not the Book of Common Prayer nor the Book of Alternative Services; but a new book that will incorporate the main services of worship in both traditional and contemporary forms.

This could be done much the way the Episcopal Church of the United States does with its Prayer Book that has Rite One (traditional) and Rite Two (contemporary).

Such an initiative by the next General Synod would inspire nothing less than a sigh of relief. It could end the liturgical Cold War that has divided so many congregations into factions, alienated people who spent a lifetime loving their church and put the national church in the contradiction of having a canonical (official) liturgy, the BCP, that most bishops and clergy seem bent on treating as a not very relevant memory.

One book with two rites can make us one church again.

First, it can restore our integrity as a constitutional society with respect for the rights of its three orders: bishops, clergy and laity, a respect lost by the years of manipulating people to accept what so many find unacceptable, years of forcing people to choose between the clerical way or the doorway.

Although we have never been a populist, bottom-up church, neither were we ever a priest-driven, top-down one. Instead we prized the mutuality of bishops, clergy and people speaking with one another, the security of each order respecting the rights of the others, the humility of all recognizing how the church is above each order.

That respect is not there now when an incumbent, allegedly in the bishop's name, can simply tell a congregation they have to worship according to the BAS or not at all. If that is tolerated, it means a reversal of five Anglican centuries that makes the people totally subject to the clerical hierarchy instead of living under the authority of synods, convocations and parliaments in which they have a voice and a vote. …

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