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At General Convention? Pick up copies of our #GC78 cartoons at the resource table or find someone with an ECF button.
More heated than perhaps any other debate in the church today is an age-old struggle: whether to print everything in the Sunday morning worship bulletin or use The Book of Common Prayer.
Those staunchly on one side of this argument contend that Episcopalians must learn to use the Prayer Book, and those congregations generally turn out leaflets with phrases like “Opening Acclamation,” directing the user to secret code words such as “BCP p.355.” The advantages of this position are that people, in such a congregation, do in fact use the Prayer Book; however, the obvious disadvantage is that a newcomer is overwhelmed and confused and can’t figure out why, if God wanted her to become an Episcopalian, God didn’t give her four arms to hold all those books!
On the other side are those who contend that hospitality is paramount. They produce veritable booklets every weekend which contain every reading and song and prayer therein. The advantage, here, is that a newcomer has everything he needs to worship, while the disadvantage is that it comes with no small weekly cost to the parish, not to mention stress on the parish administrator – and folding team – to produce a veritable newspaper week in, week out.
Given that the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is no longer “new,” although some still insist on calling it that, this wrestling match is probably beginning to subside, but I’m not so certain that it means we need to go wholly over to the other side. Learning to use the Book of Common Prayer, let alone open and read an actual bible, is an important tool for ongoing discipleship. As such, our corporate worship on the Lord’s day should model and teach those skills. At St. George’s, the congregation I serve as rector, we’ve struck on a happy middle. For all outward appearances, we are a traditional, colonial church – the Prayer Book tradition and connection to historic Episcopalianism, here, is strong and meaningful – but we’re also growing and reaching young adults and young families, meaning that we’ve had to figure out a way to make this lovely liturgical expression much more accessible and user-friendly. Our Sunday morning bulletin, then, is designed to work in coordination with other books and, since God only gave us two arms, the user only needs the bulletin and one book at a time.
And it works. Let me explain.