Interview with the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller, bishop of Down and Dromore in Northern Ireland

Resolution A169 of the 2015 General Convention directed the SCLM “to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the current Book of Common Prayer and present that plan to the 79th General Convention.” To gather information and opinions to shape its conversations, the members of the SCLM are interviewing Anglican partners who have recently revised their prayerbooks.

First in the series is an October 2016 interview with the Rt. Rev. Harold Miller, bishop of Down and Dromore in Northern Ireland, who chaired the Church of Ireland’s Liturgical Advisory Committee during the development of its 2004 Book of Common Prayer.

Download a transcript of this video.

Four Possible Paths for the Book of Common Prayer

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) will be sending to General Convention 2018 four different paths forward for its consideration in regards to the Book of Common Prayer and liturgical renewal.  It will request that General Convention 2018 select one of the four paths that will chart the SCLM’s course for the 2018-2021, and 2021-2024 triennia.  The SCLM is looking for a clearly articulated (and funded) mandate for its work going forward.  The four paths are:

1) Full and comprehensive revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer beginning after the 2018 General Convention;

2) Creation of comprehensive Book(s) of Alternative Services and no revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, with work beginning after the 2018 General Convention;

3) Intensive church-wide conversation between the 2018 and 2021 General Convention about whether a revision of the Book of Common Prayer is needed or desirable; to what extent; and whether, if revision is not desirable, the Episcopal Church should instead develop significant supplemental liturgical resources, such as a Book of Alternative Services;

4) A step back from efforts toward comprehensive liturgical revision or creation of new liturgies, and an accompanying commitment to deepening the collective understanding of – and engagement with – the theology of our current liturgies.

In shorthand, four possible paths forward are:

  • Revise Book of Common Prayer
  • Create Book(s) of Alternative Services, and leave the BCP 1979 alone
  • More talking, listening, researching, and discerning
  • Deepening our relationship with the 1979 BCP

In addition, General Convention 2018 could choose to combine path #2, #3, or #4 with another option, which is to develop “technical fixes” to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  Technical fixes are adjustments in grammar, punctuation, and word choice that do not change the theology, poetry, or intended meaning of the text.  (for example: in Eucharistic Prayer C – changing “you made us the rulers of creation” to “you made us the stewards of creation” or adding the matriarchs along with the patriarchs).  The SCLM will offer to General Convention 2018’s consideration a clear and detailed definition of the meaning of “technical fixes” and a list of specific examples.

The option that General Convention chooses will shape the ways in which the SCLM gathers information from the wider church after 2018.

A news release regarding our plans, and describing some of the methods of data collection we envision, was sent on December 5 to the wider church.

Resolution A169 of the 2015 General Convention directs the SCLM “to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the current Book of Common Prayer and present that plan to the 79th General Convention.”



Book of Occasional Services Revision

Between now and General Convention in 2018, the SCLM’s Book of Occasional Services Committee will carry out Resolution A059 of the 2015 General Convention, which directs the SCLM to “continue its work on a comprehensive revision of the Book of Occasional Services, to seek widespread input on the table of contents and scope of the revision, and to report on its progress to the 79th General Convention.”

New liturgies to be developed for consideration of the 2015 General Convention include:

Las Posadas
Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos
Lunar New Year
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Blessing of Holy Water
Rubric and Directions for Short-Form House Blessing
Reincorporation after Traumatic Absence
St. Francis Day/Blessing of the Animals
Naming Rite for Receiving or Claiming a New Name

Liturgies to be revised include:

Liturgical Materials Honoring God in Creation
Seasonal Blessings
Concerning the Advent Wreath
Advent Festival of Lessons and Music
Station at a Christmas Creche
Christmas Festival of Lessons and Music
Candlemas Procession
Preparation for Adults for Holy Baptism
Concerning the Catechumenate
Admission of Catechumens
During the Catechumenate
Enrollment for Candidates for Baptism
During Candidacy
The Presentation of the Creed
The Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer
Concerning Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows
Preparation of Baptized Persons for Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant
Welcoming Returning Members and Members Baptized in Other Traditions
Enrollment for Lenten Preparation
Maundy Thursday Rite of Preparation for The Paschal Holy Days
The Preparation of Parents and Godparents for the Baptism of Infants and Young Children
A Public Service of Healing
Recognition of Ministries in the Church and in the World
Distribution of Holy Communion by Lay Eucharistic Ministers to persons who are ill or infirm

If you would like to submit a liturgy to the SCLM’s Book of Occasional Services Committee, please email it to Ana Hernández at

Updating Lesser Feasts and Fasts

During the 2016-2018 triennium, the Calendar of Commemorations workgroup of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) will be working to propose updates to “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006” for consideration by General Convention in 2018. The criteria for inclusion will be those set forth on pages 491-493 of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006,” which is the official calendar of commemorations of the Episcopal Church. Those criteria include:

1. Historicity. Christianity is a radically historical religion, so in almost every instance it is not theological realities or spiritual movements but exemplary witness to the Gospel of Christ in lives actually lived that is commemorated in the Calendar.

2. Christian Discipleship. The death of the saints, precious in God’s sight, is the ultimate witness to the power of the Resurrection. What is being commemorated, therefore, is the completion in death of a particular Christian’s living out of the promises of baptism. Baptism is, therefore, a necessary prerequisite for inclusion in the Calendar.

3. Significance. Those commemorated should have been in their lifetime extraordinary, even heroic servants of God and God’s people for the sake, and after the example, of Jesus Christ. In this way they have testified to the Lordship of Christ over all of history, and continue to inspire us as we carry forward God’s mission in the world.

4. Memorability. The Calendar should include those who, through their devotion to Christ and their joyful and loving participation in the community of the faithful, deserve to be remembered by the Episcopal Church today. However, in order to celebrate the whole history of salvation, it is important also to include those “whose memory may have faded in the shifting fashions of public concern, but whose witness is deemed important to the life and mission of the Church” (Thomas Talley).

5. Range of Inclusion. Particular attention should be paid to Episcopalians and other members of the Anglican Communion. Attention should also be paid to gender and race, to the inclusion of laypeople (witnessing in this way to our baptismal understanding of the Church), and to ecumenical representation. In this way the Calendar will reflect the reality of our time: that instant communication and extensive travel are leading to an ever deeper international and ecumenical consciousness among Christian people.

6. Local Observance. Similarly, it should normatively be the case that significant commemoration of a particular person already exists at the local and regional levels before that person is included in the Calendar of the Episcopal Church as a whole.

7. Perspective. It should normatively be the case that a person be included in the Calendar only after two generations or fifty years have elapsed since that person’s death.

8. Levels of Commemoration. Principal Feasts, Sundays, and Holy Days have primacy of place in the Church’s liturgical observance. It does not seem appropriate to distinguish between the various other commemorations by regarding some as having either a greater or a lesser claim on our observance of them. Each commemoration should be given equal weight as far as the provision of liturgical propers is concerned (including the listing of three lessons).

9. Combined Commemorations. The present edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (2003) recognizes that not all those included in the Calendar need to be commemorated “in isolation”. Where there are close and natural links between persons to be remembered, a joint commemoration would make excellent sense (cf. The Cappadocians – Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa and Macrina— and the Reformation martyrs—Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley).

10. Common of Saints. A greater range of “Commons of Saints” should be provided to allow for optional commemorations at the local and regional levels. Presently there are propers provided for martyrs, missionaries, pastors, theologians and teachers, monastics, and “saints.” Possible additional categories could include musicians and other artists, reformers of society, and “stewards of creation,” for example, scientists and environmentalists.

General Convention 2015 made “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” available for private devotion or local use, but because it was not authorized as an official liturgical resource of the church, the SCLM does not plan to update it. However, local congregations have considerable flexibility in using commemorations that are appropriate to their local context, regardless of whether they appear on the church’s official calendar, and the existence of such local observances can be important to the convention’s decision to add a commemoration to the churchwide calendar. The guidelines for local calendars and memorials and procedures for national  recognition are available on pages 494-495 of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006.”

The members of the SCLM understand that Episcopalians have a broad range of understanding about what it means for someone to be on the calendar of commemoration and what criteria for inclusion should apply. Debating those theological questions are not within our mandate, although we suggest that General Convention might authorize a separate representative body to do so. In this triennium, however, we are bound to operate in accordance with the criteria for revising the calendar that was approved by General Convention in 2006 and set forth in “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”

SCLM Begins Work Collecting Liturgical Resources that Speak to Issues of Racial Injustice and Reconciliation

In response to Resolution A182, the SCLM is beginning the process of gathering liturgical resources to be suitable for inclusion for the prayers of the people that speak to issues of racial injustice and reconciliation.

The SCLM envisions this as a Church-wide project. We are eager to learn about the ways the Church has already been praying about racial reconciliation and hope to share online various prayers that can be used in The Prayers of the People as well as other resources that can help all of us continue to live into the mission of the church by being apart of Christ’s work of Reconciliation in the world.

We know there are many excellent prayers, liturgies, new music, and related resources already in local use. We would like to begin to collect these resources and connect with the people who developed them.

If you are aware of any prayers, liturgies, pieces of music, or other resources related to worship that have been used or developed within your local context that speak to racial reconciliation, please send these to us by contacting: Athena Hahn at by December 1st, 2016.

We also welcome you to contact us if you know of people in your diocese or parish who have written or are working on such materials, please send us their contact information and encourage them to share their work with us.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns in regards to this work on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music I invite you to contact the chair of Racial Reconciliation and Justice, Christopher Decatur at

A Note Regarding the Episcopal Church’s Calendar of Commemorations

Since the 2015 General Convention the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has received several requests for clarification concerning the calendar of commemorations. The confusion stems from the convention’s decision regarding A Great Cloud of Witnesses, which the commission had proposed as a new and expanded volume of optional commemorations of significant figures in the history of our church.

The commission intended A Great Cloud of Witnesses to replace Holy Women, Holy Men, the volume of optional commemorations that was authorized for trial use in 2009. The convention, however, declined to authorize A Great Cloud of Witnesses as an official liturgical resource, while at the same time allowing the authorization of Holy Women, Holy Men to lapse.

As a result of these actions, the volume Lesser Feasts and Fasts, last published in 2006, remains the Episcopal Church’s official calendar of optional commemorations, but without the trial-use commemorations that appear in brackets in the Calendar section in the 2006 edition.

However, in Resolution A056  the convention chose to make A Great Cloud of Witnesses “available” for “devotional or catechetical use, or use in public worship.” The volume, which will be available from Church Publishing in September, includes all of the commemorations in Holy Women, Holy Men, although some entries have been revised. A Great Cloud of Witnesses also includes commemorations added to the calendar at the 2015 General Convention.

In addition, local parishes retain significant discretion regarding optional commemorations. The Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar in the Episcopal Church (pages 491-493 in Lesser Feasts and Fasts), specify, “it should normatively be the case that significant commemoration of a particular person already exists at the local and regional levels before that person is included the Calendar of the Episcopal Church as a whole.” Therefore, commemorations made available in Holy Women, Holy Men and A Great Cloud of Witnesses may be observed by local parishes, just as commemorations arising from the experiences of particular communities may also be observed.

During this triennium you can contact the commission via email at Please direct questions about making additions to the calendar of commemorations to