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Day 1

Bill Providing for an Order for Morning and Evening Prayer in BCP Comes Before Synod

A Bill providing for the inclusion of An Order for Morning and Evening Prayer for Use on Sunday in the Book of Common Prayer came before General Synod in Armagh this afternoon (Thursday May 10). The Bill seeks to provide a clearly defined structure for Sunday worship.

In 2017 General Synod approved a resolution granting leave for the introduction of the Bill. The Liturgical Advisory Committee had become aware of widespread feeling in the Church that Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer in their traditional forms, designed to be daily offices rather than principal Sunday services, did not always make for meaningful Sunday worship.

One of the key principles behind the format of the service is to echo some of the already familiar patterns embedded in the principal services in the Book of Common Prayer. Under the new order there is a clearly defined structure to the service under the headings: The Gathering of God’s People, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word, The Response to God’s Word, The Prayers of the People, and Going out as God’s People.

The Bill was proposed in the names of the Very Revd Nigel Dunne and the Bishop of Down and Dromore at the request of the General Synod.

Dean Dunne outlined a number of amendments to the Bill.

Professor Steve Ellis (Tuam Killala and Achonry) said that the effect of the Bill would be to consolidate bad practice and should be rejected. He said that the new order of Sunday Service would do nothing to address the imbalance of word and sacrament. He said that the new service took no account of tradition and history.

The Revd Brian Lacey (Connor) said there was much scope for updating Morning Prayer but it should be done within the existing Morning Prayer rather than creating Morning Prayer 3. He further suggested that parishes who found Morning Prayer constraining should look to the Service of the Word. In introducing this service we no longer have Common Prayer and are losing our Anglican identity, he concluded.

Dean Dunne said that the move was about facing reality and feedback that Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer was not working at ground level. He added that new forms of prayer had been developing over the years and had bedded in.

A vote of synod members saw the Bill proceed to committee stage.

Vote –

Clerical: For – 109, Against – 30

Lay: For – 187, Against 54

A number of amendments to the Bill were discussed.

The Bill was passed and will receive its final reading on Saturday morning.