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Liturgy Decisions at General Synod 2024

Further updated 22 May 2024 in green below.

Further updated 9 May 2024 in blue below.

Updated 4 May 2024 in red below response to the helpful reader’s comment.

On 18 May, members of General Synod in the Pakeha dioceses gather in Hastings for a regular Tikanga Pakeha Conference. That then continues into the meeting of General Synod / Te Hīnota Whānui (GSTHW) from 19 – 23 May.

The big issue at the meeting of GSTHW this month is one I’ve been highlighting on this site since the publication in 2020 of a book called A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (NZPBHKMA2020). All the services and liturgical resources, including any and every alteration within those, in every previous edition of NZPBHKMA, from 1989 to 2005, had gone through the formularies process (colloquially: “the twice-round process”).

NZPBHKMA2020 is significantly different to the 1989-2005 NZPBs. And many (most?) people are surprised to discover that it has not gone through the GSTHW process that the 1989-2005 books went through.

Furthermore, A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa is presented in the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia as expressing agreed doctrine and practice.

NZ Anglicanism has previously had to acknowledge that it got things wrong for many, many years (Confused Church Finally Removes Unlawful Rites). Between 1966 and 2014, the Church had a complex schedule (SRL3) of what it claimed were temporary “experimental services”. That was totally illicit. There was no such provision in the rules the Church had written for itself and had passed in Parliament and in its own GSTHW. That was acknowledged at the 2014 meeting of GSTHW and some “experimental services” were rushed through the “twice-round” process so that they would continue to be usable.

But, wait! There’s more! Twelve years ago, GSTHW resolved that

in any revision of A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa each Sunday and Holy Day be provided, in the text, with at least one collect which follows the taonga/treasure of Trinitarian collects (that is, addressed to God, the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the Spirit); 

New Prayer Book Defies General Synod

The 1989 NZPB had, tragically, already dropped some classic collects (such as “…you caused all holy scriptures to be written for our instruction, grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of your holy Word,…”)

But the 2020 book not only defies the resolution of GSTHW, it drops many, many more of the classic collects (I would be surprised if there was any systematic overseeing of which collects were lost and which retained; a fuller list is being worked on, but here is a start of listing some collects which NZPBHKMA2020 ditched). Having jettisoned wonderful, memorable collects, the NZPBHKMA2020 book has twice in the last couple of months recommended (the “to see, to see” prayer):

Lord, help us to see:
to see what is eternally good and true,
and having seen, to go on searching
until we come to the joys of heaven.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

Improving a Prayer Book

or the James Bond (“shaken but not stirred”) prayer which must have been a nightmare for those communities that say the prayer aloud:

Christ of the new covenant,
give us the happiness to share,
with full measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over,
all that you give us.
Hear this prayer for your love’s sake.

NZPBHKMA2020 Easter 5B

The collect-saving grace of The Anglican Church of Or is that the collect is not required. You are allowed to have a Eucharist with no collect, or with one or more collects; you can draw them from any source or make up your own, including extemporaneously. You can locate the collect (if you have one) in any number of places within the service. Furthermore, NZ Anglicanism has no understanding of a collect structure, and it can be addressed to any member of the Trinity, to Jesus, or just to some unclear, unspecified deity entity. All this is significantly different to my own understanding of the nature and purpose of the collect which I see as the central prayer of the Liturgy of the Word (akin to the Eucharistic Prayer being the central prayer of the Liturgy of the Eucharist). See more here (The Collect of the Day) and here (my Book of Prayers in Common).

Changing the Constitution

Anyway, returning now to the confused, confusing statement in our Constitution:

This Church holds and maintains the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as  the Lord has commanded in Holy Scripture and as explained in

            …A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.

Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia Part B1

When the 1989 NZ Prayer Book came out, it was perfectly clear that the Constitution referred to that physical book. I would contend that this continued to the 2005 book, but by then there were already people arguing that this referred not to any physical book but to all liturgical formularies, whether they were in that physical book or not. Rather than put those parts of NZPBHKMA2020 not yet seen by GSTHW through the “twice round” process, the Bill before GSTHW2024 proposes the “twice round” process replacing the above

Part B, Clause 1 of the Constitution/te Pouhere is amended on page iv(a) by the replacement of the words “A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa” with the words

“Formularies contained in A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, and Formularies as agreed by this Church but not contained in A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.’’

Bill 8 The Constitution Te Pouhere Amendment Bill 

This is a reasonable solution. Although, one might rightly question why It cannot simply say “Formularies as agreed by this Church” rather than the cumbersome ‘Formularies in NZPBHKMA and not in NZPBHKMA’?!!

The other surprise for me in this Bill was that alongside NZPBHKMA2020 there have been different printings in 2021 and 2024 – I do not have those physical copies (yet) and I wonder how each differs from NZPBHKMA2020?

Lesser Issues

Bill 9 deletes “for a child born handicapped” from NZPBHKMA page 756; a similar phrase was already deleted from page 463. This request comes in partnership with the Disability Ministries Portfolio Group and seems a straightforward improvement.

Bill 10 is fairly obvious: replacing prayer for the Queen with The Sovereign.

This is an update on 22 May 2024. An astute comment (below) sees Bill 10 as “this would be the first time the Church, in its formularies, recognises that there are more than two genders”. This is because the formulary can be used with a singular “sovereign” using pronouns “they/them/their” (as follows):

God who creates us in community,
and weaves us together in relationship,
bless our sovereign.
Fill them with your grace,
that they may provide
all communities under their rule
with what is needed to thrive.
Guide them to lead
in ways that reflect your reign
of justice, compassion and peace.
We pray in the name of Christ,
the Prince of peace.

Bill 11 allows for additional translations to be used in services. I’m pleased to see The New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition 2022 on this list. That, or NRSV, is the translation I advocate using whenever people ask me which version I advocate for.

Motion 10 updates the Notes on the Calendar – I am not sure why this is not a Formulary, but I am fine that it is not – if it was going through the process of becoming a Formulary, one might need to go through it more with a fine tooth comb.

Having had a little more time to look at Motion 10, I noticed that under Festivals we are presented with “St Matthias the Apostle / Matiaha Tapu, te Apotoro (14 May)”. The NZ Prayer Book Calendar still has Matthias on 24 February (where it doesn’t clash with any other possible celebration). 14 May is assigned to “Ngākūkū, Missionary in Mataatua”. Furthermore, Motion 10 has for Festivals that “These days, and the liturgical provision for them, are not usually displaced.” So if the move to May is accepted, not only will people more likely celebrate an Apostle over Ngākūkū, but Motion 10 appears to make that pretty much mandatory (as much as anything is mandatory in NZ Anglicanism!). I would have thought that at least Tikanga Māori would have advocated (will, at GSTHW 2024, advocate) strongly for Ngākūkū to not be trumped on 14 May! Also, I cannot find any change in our formularies that 14 May is even an option for Matthias let alone the sole option! Another point in that this (blue) discussion again highlights is how difficult it is to find our (changed) formularies and to ascertain what is required, what is allowed, and what is forbidden.

Bill – unlucky number – 13

Bill 13 needs some more careful attention by GSTHW members. It is presenting a revised ‘Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year’ to go through the “twice round” formulary process. Firstly, do note that the “current” Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year for the Revised Common Lectionary has (in the words of Bill 13 been “approved” (d); in the words of Bill 8 it has been “received” – ie. currently this is NOT a Formulary). I have already noted that NZPBHKMA2020 (using the approved/received Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year reintroduced gendered language) It seems from my glancing at this revision that that has been remedied. But that may need closer reading to check my first viewing.

BUT there seems, on my first reading, no attempt to restore the collects lost from NZPBHKMA 1989-2005. We continue to have repetition of “…to see: to see…” quality collects, repeated twice in as many months. This revision continues to defy GSTHW in not providing a collect following formal structure and addressing God, First Person of the Trinity (etc). And, finally, there is not even an allusion to the Trinitarian collect collection that the Church has been trialing for a decade now. Whilst I am, obviously, a strong advocate for liturgical resources to go through the GSTHW process – as this is doing, I do so in order that we may as a Church bring the wide wisdom to bear on texts we agree on.

I think we can do MUCH better than what is here being presented to be a Formulary of our Church: reintroduction, in contemporary language and idiom, of shared, historic, memorable collects; moving of lovely prayers (which aren’t really collects but have been placed in the position and called such) to a different part of our Prayer Book; possibly adding the NZ-produced trial collects as a second option for each celebration (NB – I’m a one-collect per service person rather than the string-of-collects at the start of some Anglican Eucharists; ie. if two collects are provided, I would hope that this doesn’t lead to people regularly using both!) In other words, at the very least, if we are to work towards a Formulary Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year it should not be in defiance of the spirit and letter of GSTHW that there actually be a collect provided for each celebration.

There are two points that spring from the helpful reader’s comment (below).

1) If the Church is making ‘Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year’ a Formulary, one of the valuable parts of NZPBHKMA2020 is that these are also provided in Te Reo Māori. The Māori texts of ‘Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year’ should form part of the Formulary process at the same time, and not be relegated to a secondary status as a Māori translation of the English, Pākehā text. [19 May 2024: another model is provided in NZPBHKMA pp 476ff where texts are not “translated” but (as it says) texts are “parallels”]

2) Making ‘Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year’ a Formulary invites reflection: what are we doing when we make this a Formulary? Let’s be clear: currently, the non-Formulary ‘Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year’ is permitted to be used. Furthermore, currently, the collects provided are allowed to be used, but as I have indicated above, they are not required to be used – and zero, one to many collects (or “collects” with scare quotes) from any source may be used in a number of places in the Eucharist and other services. Other than clarifying that our Church doctrine is expressed in ‘Sentences, Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year’ should it become a Formulary, there continues to be a significant lack of clarity about what is required, what is allowed, and what is forbidden – it seems that being a Formulary does not mean this must be used, but where are the edges of that? It seems to me that at least the Ordinal may not be tinkered with, but are there other rites that may not be tinkered with? And how widespread is the agreement of these edges?

Let us pray for those meeting at Tikanga Pakeha Conference and General Synod / Te Hīnota Whānui.

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14 thoughts on “Liturgy Decisions at General Synod 2024”

  1. Dear Bosco,
    Every good thing to you. ANZPB 2020 (or whatever it shall be henceforth called) has offered at least one thing. The Collects (faulty or not) are translated, and by translated I mean someone with in depth Te Reo Maori knowledge has put something alongside using Maori conversion. This means our community prays the Collect every Monday and Friday in Te Reo Maori. We build therefrom on the work of the past curate of souls in this community, embracing bi-culturalism. Change, but also continuity. This is a good thing IMO. For us (me) who cannot translate this has been a singularly good thing. Student teachers reflecting that “chapel is a most obvious sign of the integration of bi-cultural ideals at —–“. So ANZPB 2020 is doing some great work, where 89, 05, fail to do so. Bilingual Collects…a strong move, even if.

  2. Kia ora Bosco, as you know in 2018 General Synod passed a resolution that same sex couples in civil unions or marriages could receive a blessing in the Anglican church. Do you know if any work is being done on a liturgy for this? And when can we expect to see it in our prayer book. It has been quite a few years now.

    1. Bosco Peters

      Kia ora, Tilly – other than the rite proposed to GSTHW the first time, I’m unaware of any other rites being worked on. You are best to check with someone on a provincial liturgical group or commission, or even a GSTHW member. Easter Season blessings.

  3. Doug Widdowson

    Kia Ora Bosco

    I wonder, has there been any discussion for a liturgy to be conducted at the time a person is transitioning from life to death at the time of its application. While the church does not support the bill, a number of people have gone through the process, some asking for a service as they are passing.

    It would be helpful, not only for the person who is undertaking this journey, but especially for those left behind.

    Your thoughts would be invaluable.

    1. Thanks for the question, Doug – I’m not sure that I fully understand your question – I think there is a very fulsome provision in “Prayer at Time of Death” (NZPBHKMA pp 812ff) which also encourages The Reconciliation of a Penitent (Confession), Holy Communion, and anointing as additional options. I hope that is a help? Day of Pentecost blessings.

      1. Apologies. I now see I wasn’t clear. I am talking about a service for a person who is going through the process of euthanasia/

        1. Thanks, Doug. It seems to me that those provisions I mentioned are usable in that context. Don’t you think so? Blessings.

  4. Hi Bosco,

    I think Bill 10 will be very interesting if passed in its current form because of the optional uses of they/them within the prayer. Ultimately, this would be the first time the Church, in its formularies, recognises that there are more than two genders. Ultimately, I would fall on the “conservative” side of this issue, but I am happy to hear the arguments for the proposal when it comes before the Synods.

    It will be very interesting as this came up as an issue in the proposal of a statute amending relating to the temporal aspects of the Church.

    1. That’s a fascinating – and certainly valid – reading of the change. I wonder how that discussion progresses, and I will update the post to include a link to your comment. What you are noting is that the prayer allows for a singular sovereign using the pronouns they/them/their (as follows). Blessings.

      God who creates us in community,
      and weaves us together in relationship,
      bless our sovereign.
      Fill them with your grace,
      that they may provide
      all communities under their rule
      with what is needed to thrive.
      Guide them to lead
      in ways that reflect your reign
      of justice, compassion and peace.
      We pray in the name of Christ,
      the Prince of peace.

  5. Peter Carrell

    I think people are making too much of this use of “them”.
    In my memory, at GSTHW this week, we actually passed the prayer as reading “sovereign(s)” …!

    On services for same sex blessings, it is up to the local bishop to authorise such rite- as I recall the 2018 decision.

    1. Greetings Bishop Peter,

      I suppose the problem with that is there is no such thing as a group of sovereigns – there can only be one reigning sovereign at any one time that’s the case in most monarchies. Which makes the whole prayer grammatically incorrect if using the plural sovereigns. With of course the historical exception of King William and King Mary who reigned together in the late 1600s – this example will never occur again due to the very firm succession laws in place in the UK.

      However, if the consensus of GSTHW was that the effect of the wording was straight forward to couple the plural word “sovereigns” with the pronouns they/them; GSTHW should have made that very clear in the proposed prayer by inserting an asterix denoting that the plural must be used with the respective preposition. Putting “s” in brackets makes it an option and therefore allows an individual making the prayer to use the preposition they/them with the singular word sovereign.

      Any such combination imports a new doctrine into our formularies such that we as a Church believe that there are more than two genders for the sovereign. If this is the case it also makes the other liturgies of the Church inconsistent with this particular prayer as the rest of the liturgies use the pronouns he/him and she/her.

      I too originally thought the prayer was a minor change and that its effect was restricted to the plural sovereigns . However if you analyse the prayer as I have suggested it would have this impact.

      1. Peter Carrell

        I am somewhat hamstrung by not actually having the text of what we agreed to in front of me [I left a rather large set of papers at the synod venue, not wanting to crash my plane home :).]

        I can only seek to assure you that the point of “them” in the prayer was not to sneak in something or other re gender.

        I note that within the realm of England there was once dual sovereignty!

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