I would like what I write in this post to be wrong. I would like someone in a comment to write: this blog-post is completely mistaken because of A, B, C…

A printing of a revised New Zealand Prayer Book is being planned which has not followed the required process of revision.

A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa binds together formularlies of our church. Not only are we required to follow the formularies in worship, clergy vow and sign to do so, and affirm allegiance to the doctrine to which the Prayer Book bears witness.

Hence, appropriately, there is a complex process for altering formularies: a particular type of statute is passed at General Synod/te Hīnota Whānui (GSTHW). Such a statute refers to the requirement under Clause 4 of the Church of England Empowering Act 1928 and Part B, Clause 6 of the Constitution/te Pouhere. This statute then goes to all the dioceses and hui amorangi for their approval, and then back to a newly elected GSTHW. And then it “lies on the table” for a year for the opportunity for anyone to appeal.

Funny though it may have seemed, this was the process the church went through to change “breech” to “breach” in Psalm 106:23. There are no short-cuts and no other ways to do it. A motion won’t do it. It’s more than “authorising” something for worship.

Plans have begun to print a new edition of the Prayer Book – with the intention to include significant alterations that have not been through this process! The plans would replace the current pages 549 to 723 with alterations that I am implacably opposed to.

When I first started picking up suggestions that such plans were being thought about I didn’t take much notice, as I knew that there would be plenty of opportunity once the process I’ve described was on the horizon.

But now it appears that the powers that be either do not know, do not understand, or do not intend to abide by the legal requirements. It is time to speak out.

At the heart of both the Ministry of Word and Prayer and the Ministry of the Sacrament traditionally there is a prayer addressed to God (the First Person of the Trinity) in Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Ministry of the Sacrament that is the Great Thanksgiving prayer (the Eucharistic Prayer). We stand praying together as Christ, in Christ. An exception in our 2,000 year history would be so rare it underscores the Trinitarian insight.

At the core of the Ministry of Word and Prayer the collect follows the same insight and structure, a prayer addressed to God, in Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Week by week on this site I provide commentaries on these much loved taonga (treasures), which many Anglicans learnt “by heart” (such an appropriate term!) and which we share with Roman Catholicism, the Anglican Communion, and other denominations.

I wrote an open letter to Tikanga Pakeha Liturgical Working Group (TPLWG – this is the liturgical working group for Tikanga Pakeha, the Pakeha cultural stream of our Church). As well as Trinitarian collects, little prayers to Jesus and the Holy Spirit have proliferated in NZ revisions. But options have been offered – those of us who wished to preserve the precious gift of Trinitarian orthodoxy (literally “right worship”) using our Prayer Book could still choose a collect, addressed to God through Christ in the Spirit, from the three provided each Sunday.

In the planned new edition of the Prayer Book, current pages 549 to 723 could be replaced with propers with only one collect provided rather than a choice as currently. The prayer for the proper could be addressed to Jesus or the Holy Spirit…

The letter was well-received by TPLWG. They replied to me that they agreed with my concern and assured me they would raise it at the Common Life Liturgical Commission (CLLC) meeting. [CLLC is the three-tikanga, the provincial liturgical commission of our church].

I waited for some sort of further feedback from CLLC. And waited.

Finally I asked for the minutes of the CLLC meeting. My concern was not mentioned. CLLC does not read the TPLWG minutes. The representative from TPLWG on CLLC did not present my issue as promised.

I have written to our bishop and diocesan Standing Committee to see how our diocese might support my concern. I have let the publishers, Genesis, and the General Secretary know of my concern.

The minutes have much else of concern: poor communication; confusion about what is authorised or allowed; concern about liturgical and general Anglican formation, confusion about the status of our own copyright; confusion about processes,… I have blogged previously about our liturgical chaos here and here.

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