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Liturgy Decisions at General Synod

If you are not interested in the minutia of worship decision making, go outside and enjoy the fresh air, or meet with a friend, or… Otherwise…

One of the most significant liturgical issues to deal with by the decision-making bodies of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is the regularising of the book published in 2020 with the title A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. This book has the same title but a different status (and obviously different content) to the book of the same name last published in 2005. If that is all that interests you, go to here. Otherwise:

General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui meets in Nelson next week, 25-29 October 2022. You can find the information about this here. Let me briefly go through some of the liturgical material being dealt with.

Bill 2 amends the Calendar – the option of commemorating St Matthias on February 24 is being removed (less Or in the Anglican Church of Or?!). This will lessen our connection with our neighbour Australian and American Anglicanism and bring us closer to Roman Catholicism.

Surprisingly, Bill 2 would have Te Pouhere Sunday now appear to start a season: “Sundays after Te Pouhere Sunday till Advent”. Te Pouhere Sunday is not a formulary of our Church. It is not provided with propers (collect and readings) in our formularies and has no mention elsewhere in A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. In our lectionary booklet, there are a number of themed Sundays provided as alternative to the Revised Common Lectionary, which is a formulary: Mothering Sunday; Bible Sunday; and so on. Te Pouhere Sunday is one of those.

An aside: I hadn’t noticed previously – the Table mentioned in Bill 2 was absent from the 2005 edition of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.

Bill 4, about Collect endings, simply continues and increases the confusion in our Church which is regularly referred to as the Anglican Church of Or. The formularies for the Eucharist pages 404-510 are all crystal clear that (rightly) there is only one single collect that concludes the Gathering of the Community. This Bill allows for several collects at this point; “set down for the Day for use in the service” is not explained; and this Bill appears to limit the options for concluding the collect. The formulary, A Form for Ordering the Eucharist (pages 511ff), allows for no collect, or a collect chosen from any source, or produced locally, and with any conclusion.

Bill 5 simply expands the Eucharistic Prayers allowed to be used with A Form for Ordering the Eucharist (pages 511ff) to include The Great Thanksgivings authorised by the General Synod/te Hīnota Whānui. There is no mention of other Eucharistic Prayers which may be authorised following the process of our amended Constitution. No matter – in the Anglican Church of Or, there is always the formulary An Alternative Form for Ordering the Eucharist which allows the use of a Eucharistic Prayer authorised anywhere in the Anglican Communion.

Bill 7 adds Paipera Tapu 2012 to the list of translations permitted to be used in worship.

Bill 8 adds “The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – from Ascension until Pentecost” to Other Special Days.

Bill 10 confusingly titled ‘The Liturgies of the Eucharist’ (All Saints Day)’  is a baffling potpourri (surprise!). It suggests that all the prayers in our authorised 2005 A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa are present in the rearranged 2020 “A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa” (more on this below). Here is a fascinating exercise for someone: is that correct? And somehow, in doing so, the Prayer after Communion (pages 671f) was omitted. This restores that prayer. As an aside: is this one prayer or four?

Then, (you might miss it!) added into this Bill that is titled ‘The Liturgies of the Eucharist (All Saints Day)‘ is the decision to remove “The” from “The Day of Pentecost” on page 541, but it will stay “The Day of Pentecost” on page 5!!! And it removes “The” from “The Season of Easter”. The Anglican Church of Or, always on the lookout to increase the number of options!

Bill 11 provides the Anglican Church of Or with even more options: in this case four more options for the doxology concluding a psalm in Daily Prayer (but, for some reason not explained, not to conclude canticles in Daily Prayer). Furthermore, rather than grapple with the different meaning (indicative, imperative) of “shall” and “will” in English, both options are provided! Now, when we pray, more energy will now be expended in trying to remember which option this particular community is using on this particular day than on being fully present to the words of the psalm you are praying (furthermore, some communities so love changing the responses to essentially the same cue that they rotate them). And even with those communities that decide on a consistent doxology always used, this is yet another loss of common prayer.

Motion 9 was passed unanimously at the Christchurch Diocesan Synod seeking a new introduction in future printings of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.

Report by the Common Life Liturgical Commission notes the delay in the Daily Prayer App Tuia which was to have been launched a couple of Easters ago. The highlight is the publication of the 2020 book called “A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare” (2020ANZPBHKMA).

As mentioned, people in our diocese want to see a new introduction to our Prayer Book (Motion 9, two paragraphs above). Part of that, of course, is that people want our published Prayer Book to actually be our agreed Prayer Book – in other words: that the services in A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa be agreed formularies of our Church.

In the case of the book published with that name in 2020 – that is not the case. The Foreword of this 2020 book (page ix) itself acknowledges that there is more in this book than formularies:

In addition to new formularies this edition includes the 2010 Schema, updated in 2019 for this publication, of sentences, collects and readings, along with approved Te Reo translations. Also included are new Fijian, Tongan, Samoan, and Hindi approved translations of some of the Eucharistic Liturgies.

2020ANZPBHKMA page ix

Translations may be impeccable, but a translation of a formulary is not itself a formulary. If we are to agree that an authorised translation of a formulary is itself a formulary then such an agreement would, itself, need to go through the twice-round process making that a formulary. Furthermore, I would have thought that we, as a Church, would want all our rites in our Prayer Book to have equal status, whatever their language – not Pakeha English ones being formularies, and others being translations of Pakeha English.

At root is the issue: what is A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa? What, by that name, is being referred to as being binding in our Constitution? Some would answer: it is a physical book, in which case, is the 2005 edition the one being referred to? Others contend it is the collection of all formularies for worship – of which the (2005) bound book is simply a particular sampling.

In order that these issues not muddy the water of our diocese’s Motion 9, above, a letter was sent from our diocese. It is my hope that, although it appears not to be on the agenda of General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui’s meeting, these issues are at least beginning to be grappled with by those who hold the responsibility of governance of our Church.

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4 thoughts on “Liturgy Decisions at General Synod”

  1. Many thanks, Bosco, for this whole email and all its contents. Being Grammar Police I think it is ‘similar to different from’ but that nit picking apart this is all very helpful to one who will never be invited to General Synod but nevertheless is one who tries to keep the home fires burning. Bless you all next week Amanda Bradley (Rev.Waikato).

  2. It concerns me that our Church keeps touching the prayerbook and making changes every session of General Synod. I mean the Church of England Empowering Act is a piece of legislation that makes the process arduous to change the formularies ipso facto our Prayer Books either the Book of Common Prayer (1662) or the New Zealand Prayerbook (whichever one they want to designate as the “real” prayerbook)…. These formularies should not need regular changing unless there is a gross deficiency in either translation or theology. Our Church really has a problem with “Or” which you note through this post and many others I do feel sorry for Clergy having to jumble around and make choices detracting from their primary job to lead in the worship of our Lord.

    I pray that the Church listens to your advice on these issues. All the best from Auckland.

    1. Thanks. Let us pray daily for the meeting of General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui underway now in Nelson, and also keep making these points to those who have this responsibility of leadership. Blessings.

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