Publication of Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (containing the main-line Sunday liturgies) and an accompanying volume of Pastoral Rites is now only twelve months away, and business at General Synod is on track to complete authorisation of revised services just in time.
At this group of sessions we gave final approval to Thanksgiving for the Gift for a Child, Funeral Services, and The Lords Prayer. The modern language version of The Lords Prayer will be the same as in the ASB, although the ELLC version (with time of trial) will be included in an appendix.
These returned to Synod after their second trip to the revision committee. Following strong support in July for a prayer with more responsive material, the revision committee had added this. Since Synod had not seen this prayer before, there were naturally a lot of amendments proposed to make alterations. The procedure for dealing with liturgical business was not designed with such late introduction of new material in mind, and after taking the first few amendments we decided to stop. We suspended a few standing orders so that the new prayer could be considered by the revision committee, and all the remaining stages taken at next Februarys group of sessions, when the rest of Holy Communion is due for final approval.
Following Julys debate on the Nicene Creed, the House of Bishops brought the matter back to Synod, but this time in a way that would allow us to choose between the various translations of
to quote the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 AD. The critical word is ek (ek), which means of, from or by. Should it follow the ELLC text
as suggested by the House of Bishops, or
(Bishop of Liverpool), or
(David Bone of Bristol), or
(Bishop of Birmingham)? All three houses of Synod supported the Bishops, but the voting in the House of Laity (131 to 76) was below the two-thirds majority required at final approval of liturgical business.
After the debate and vote, two senior members of Synod (Pete Broadbent and Philip Giddings) said that they could not in conscience use the version which Synod had just voted for. Its a pity that they did not say this during the debate. It will be interesting to see what the House of Bishops brings to Synod in February for final approval.
Bridge Report Follow-up
Following the Bridge Report on Synodical Government a follow-up group was set up to consider what to do with the reports recommendations. The groups first report was issued shortly after the July group of sessions; it divided Bridges recommendations into three:
The appropriate legislation was introduced into Synod in November to put the uncontentious matters into effect. These included:
It will be open to the Annual Meeting to alter the first two of these.
One of Bridges most contentious recommendations was that deanery synods should no longer be part of the formal structure of synodical government. The working groups advice is that this proposal be dropped (and with it the proposal to set up a system of synodical electors). However the group says that there are clearly serious criticisms of the way in which deanery synods operate in certain cases. It recommends that a model of good practice be drawn up and the group will work on this as part of the second stage of its work. A letter about this, inviting comments, was circulated with the papers for the November 1999 meeting of Deanery Synod.
Draft Amending Canons 22 and 23 were given final approval. Number 22 makes it possible for a diocesan bishop to allow a parish to use a service for a limited period after its authorisation has expired. Number 23 allows the House of Bishops to approve translations of authorised forms of service and allows diocesan bishops to authorise the use of these translations and of services in British Sign Language in their dioceses.
Other matters considered included: