crossA week out from the meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) members received a new motion (motions are to be in 7 weeks earlier). The explanation with this motion (number 31) is that it is required on the passing of Bill 4. Bill 4 is the last stage towards making Ashes to Fire a formulary of our church. Ashes to Fire is a collection of resources for Lent and Easter. All that is contained in Ashes to Fire can be used without any authorisation. I am against making Ashes to Fire a formulary, my diocese is against making Ashes to Fire a formulary, until we are clear what that entails.

  • If we use ashes on Ash Wednesday, just as one example, will we have to follow the wording etc. from Ashes to Fire and no longer be able to use the prayers and wording from other resources we have been using up until now?
  • Will the other languages in our church now no longer be allowed to be used for the services provided for in Ashes to Fire, eg Te Reo Maori? There are no such provisions in Ashes to Fire.

Now to Motion 31. The motion, if passed, places Ashes to Fire in the second schedule of Title G Canon VI, as being experimental, until the end of General Synod 2014. But Bill 4, if passed, already inserts Ashes to Fire into the “schedules of Title G, Canon VI” [someone else will have to explain why the Bill uses the plural “schedules”. There are three schedules, I have never seen an authorised service placed in more than one!]

If Motion 31 is “required on the passing of Bill 4”, this would be a regular event whenever the church has authorised a service in this manner (Bill 4 concludes the process of a Bill at a previous meeting of GSTHW, voting on it in every Episcopal Unit of our Church, and returning it for this Bill concluding the process). There should be lots of examples where this was required previously. If so, is this very late arrival of this motion another sign that our church lost its institutional memory on how to proceed with the process of making liturgical decisions?

There was a recent discovery that An Alternative Form for Ordering the Eucharist, A Form for Ordering a Service of the Word, and the latest Great Thanksgiving Prayers were in the wrong schedule (Title G Canon VI)!

But, then, I’m not the one saying that the liturgical rules of our church are “transparent, simple, clear“.

If you have struggled to understand this post, I assure you I have done my very, very best to make it as clear as possible. You are not the problem. The decision-making processes and the resulting “rules” in relation to liturgy in our church are now so tangled, confused, and confusing that I do not think anyone has an agreed understanding of them. Our church desperately needs the called-for Standing Committee review.

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