Last month I wrote an open letter to the pakeha liturgical committee of our church (Tikanga Pakeha Liturgical Working Group – TPLWG) pleading with them not to continue down the direction of abandoning the Trinitarian collects of our Western Christian heritage.

The collect is the central prayer of the Liturgy of the Word. Just as in the Eucharistic Prayer (the central prayer of the Liturgy of the Sacrament), the collect has normatively been prayed to God, with us praying in Christ, in the power of the Spirit. NZ has, more and more, been praying nice little prayers and losing the theological and liturgical point of the collect.

Please read my open letter here.

I am grateful I received a reply which is heartening with some disquieting aspects. I appreciate very much their acknowledgement of the value of this site. Then they go on to write:

On the matter raised in your open letter, we thank you for bringing this to the attention of both ourselves and the wider Church. We would like to confirm that these initiatives have not come from our working group (although we have previously been made aware of them), but rather directly from the Common Life Liturgical Commission [CLLC].

While we would tend to agree with the points you raise, we are also aware that General Synod has already passed these Collects in the first of the two motions required to insert them into the Prayer Book. That motion is currently with the dioceses and hui amorangi awaiting approval, and we note that your own diocese will be debating it in March. We would encourage you to raise your concerns there, and also with CLLC. We have asked our Tikanga Pakeha representatives on that body to ensure this matter is raised, but it would not hurt for you to write to them also.

Before proceeding, it may be important that you read the motion being referred to that was actually passed in this regard at this year’s General Synod. This is “motion 5” that, prior to the General Synod meeting, I wrote was confused and confusing, and I urged people to speak against it at the General Synod meeting:

As I said earlier, the motion gives the impression that it is intended to replace everything in our Prayer Book from pages 549 to 723. But the motion cannot do that as those pages are formularies of our church. To alter a formulary of our church requires a statute, which, when passed by General Synod goes to all the dioceses and hui amorangi for their voting, and then back to General Synod for its second vote, after which the new formulary lies on the table for a year for any protests before it comes into effect. A statute to alter a formulary has quite a specific form and wording – totally lacking in motion 5.

I have, on more than one occasion suggested that the liturgical legislation of our province (let alone the liturgical life) is now so confused and confusing that very few can make head nor tail of it. That includes bishops. That includes, it seems to me, our national pakeha liturgical committee. They write, “General Synod has already passed these Collects in the first of the two motions required to insert them into the Prayer Book”. General Synod has done no such thing. I do not have any idea what members of General Synod think they have done, and there are members of General Synod, including bishops, on TPLWG, but motion 5 is not the process for altering a formulary.

I do not know what, hence, is meant by “we note that your own diocese will be debating it in March”. Our diocesan synod has met twice since the General Synod meeting, for our meetings we received the General Synod liturgical material Ashes to Fire, but there was no reference to motion 5.

I would also be helped if someone could point me to the General Synod decisions mentioned in motion 5, eg. to change the names of the Sundays in the lectionary (I have pointed out from time to time their chaotic nature). The only change I can recall from the motion’s list, is the making of the Revised Common Lectionary into a formulary.

In conclusion, I am heartened that TPLWG is in agreement that we must work against this trend and that they will bring this to the attention of CLLC. I urge any diocesan synods or hui amorangi that are actually debating this to become informed about the confusion and about the grave loss we are in danger of. I urge others to become informed and involved in this. CLLC next meets 3 March 2011, and the Chair is Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu. His contact details are here.

Please inform me if there are any errors in my points. I am very happy to have areas corrected and/or clarified.

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