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Day 3

The Report of the Liturgical Advisory Committee Presented to General Synod and Two Liturgical Motions Passed

The report of the Liturgical Advisory Committee was presented to Synod this morning.

Proposing the report, Bishop Harold Miller said that it had been a very productive era liturgically. This year An Order of Service for Morning and Evening Prayer for Use on Sundays would appear in the new edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

He said that the new edition of the BCP would have a dark blue cover and the pagination will be the same as Morning and Evening Prayer for Use on Sunday will be incorporated in it at the end.

Alongside that there will be two other booklets. The first will be Morning and Evening Prayer for Use on Sunday with some seasonal services. So people who own green BCPs need not pulp their existing books but may just buy the booklet. The end result is that the rich language in the new services that has been absent, he said.

Bishop Miller drew Synod’s attention to orders of service for commemoration of Celtic saints which are available on the Church of Ireland website.

He highlighted the sense of fun, joy and general achievement that exists on the LAC. Sometimes there was disagreement, challenge and the need to compromise but it was always imaginative, he stated. He added that liturgy was always evolving and speaking to the needs of each new generation.

Seconding the report the Revd Julie Bell drew attention to LAC’s children’s ministry sub–group which is looking at developing resources to support the full engagement of children in Sunday worship. 

“We want to realize the full potential of children as members of the worshipping community, as those who give and receive and both learn and bring their own challenges and insights.  It is encouraging to see the tide turning on the idea that children cannot understand or engage in regular corporate worship, and an increasing recognition of the biblical template of coming to know Christ together as a multi–generational worshipping community.  This also supports the continued sharing of God’s word in everyday family life, as the book of Deuteronomy suggests,” she stated.

Ms Bell said they were working towards providing case studies and guidelines on the engagement of children in the forms of service currently in use in the Church of Ireland.

She continued that the music sub committee was working to help congregations to reengage with the singing of Psalms and Canticles and had circulated a survey to clergy on the use of canticles in worship.

Speaking to the report, George Woodman (Connor) commended the work of LAC. Referring to the Historic Centenaries Working Group he said that 2021 would see the centenary of the establishment of the Parliament of Northern Ireland and the Free State Oireachtas. He said the event deserved liturgical commemoration through a service which could be used in either jurisdiction.

The Revd Robert Miller asked that the liturgy be made accessible on the website.

Ivan Dinsmore spoke about modern old liturgies and requested the services be returned.

Alan Gilbert asked that resources be made to enable readers of the lesson provide appropriate background.

Dean Gerald Field paid tribute to Archdeacon Ricky Rountree on the occasion of his last Synod for his work with the LAC.

There were two motions associated with the Liturgical Advisory Committee.

The first motion, proposed by Bishop Harold Miller, seeks leave to be given for the introduction of a Bill in the General Synod of 2019 to approve for use in the Church of Ireland The Service of Prayer and Naming and The Funeral Service in Cases of Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death as set out in the Schedule to this Resolution.

Proposing the motion Bishop Miller said that sometimes it was very difficult to find the right words to pray, especially when we confront death as we were preparing to celebrate the newness of life. He paid tribute to the Revd Daniel Nuzum for his work on the motion. He spoke of the extremely challenging experience of miscarriage and said it was important to get the sentiment and the theology right. “These are moments when people need to know that the Lord understands and cares and remains faithful and people need to know that the words we use are suitable and this is where this motion comes in,” he said.

Amendments can be made to the Bill for up to a month after Synod.

Speaking to the motion the Canon Mark Harvey (Down and Dromore) warmly welcomed the motion and spoke of having to cobble together an appropriate service. He said the service would give firm, expression and some meaning to the grief and loss experienced.

Eithne Harkness (Armagh) said many people at Synod know the pain of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death and clergy have ministered to people. Loss of a baby, loss of a foetus, the decision to terminate a pregnancy, choice, no choice, how can the pain of losing a baby be different, she asked. She said that whatever the reason behind a decision to seek a termination, the church must remember this group of people. She hoped that they could feel that these prayers and liturgy are for them. “Judging women in crisis pregnancies and childbirth and saying who meets the criteria to use this liturgy, if all are to feel welcome we need to acknowledge publicly that we share this liturgy with women who are hidden. If we do this we will stand with these women in compassion not leaving them to travel to another country,” she said. She asked Synod to think about amendments to support these women, at this particular time when they are being criticised and vilified by many.


Niall Clipsman (Kilmore) spoke as a pediatrician and said that talking to parents in this situation was difficult and having a liturgy like this so that we can support people in the depths of despair whose world has fallen apart. This liturgy will help us as a church to provide comfort. He welcomed the include a naming certificate.


The Revd Alan McCann (Connor) thanked the LAC for bringing this liturgy forward as it was timely and a much needed pastoral liturgy. He said it was doctrinally ambiguous and sentimental in places.


The Revd Andrew Campbell (Connor) also thanked the LAC for the liturgy and thanked them for acknowledging miscarriages.


The Revd Helen Steed (Down) she welcomed the liturgy. She suggested that the more included in the liturgy the more useful for people who suffer and grieve. She asked for the language to be reflected. She asked for fathers to be included more centrally in the liturgy.


The Revd Timothy Eddison (Down and Dromore) welcomed the liturgy. He expressed concern about the principle of praying for the dead.


The Revd Bill Atkins (Armagh) said he was uncomfortable with the language of loss because no one who dies in Christ is lost.


The motion was passed by Synod and it will be presented as a special Bill at Synod next year.


The second motion seeks leave be given for the introduction of a Bill in the General Synod of 2019 to approve for use in the Church of Ireland Holy Communion by Extension for Persons Unable to be Present at the Public Celebration as set out in the Schedule to this Resolution.

Proposing the motion, Bishop Miller said that the order had been used for many years under the legislation which allows the House of Bishops to grant permission for experimental use. He said the liturgy makes possible the inclusion of someone who is ill or unable to append the Eucharist to participate in the celebration of the community.

“The way in which it works is this. At the main communion service, bread and wine is set aside for those who are unable to be present. At the end of the service the people concerned may be prayed for, and ministers (lay or ordained) with suitable training and authorization, are sent out with the elements to those who are sick. This happens in immediate continuity with the service,” he explained.


He added that the person bringing the elements would read the Scriptures, possibly share a thought from the sermon, pray with the person and administer the bread and wine to them.


He said it was not an underhand way to introduce the reservation of the blessed sacrament.


The Revd Trevor Johnston (Connor) objected to the motion on theological and pastoral grounds. He said it was in conflict with the church’s unchanging foundations. He said it heightened individualism. He said those in pastoral need of the word were short changed as they did not hear the sermon. He questioned what a valid reason might be for Communion by extension. The Articles of Faith prevent this service, he said.


The Revd Dr Peter Thompson (Armagh) spoke of his experience of the immense pastoral power of Communion by Extension.


The Revd Bill Atkins (Armagh) also objected to it.


Canon Gillian Wharton (Dublin) said that people hospital felt vulnerable and isolated and it was important for them to feel included. She said it was not always sensible or practical to hold a full service at a bedside. She said the intention of this service, used properly, was hugely important and the benefit to people on their journey and at the end stage of their lives.


The Revd Simon Lumby (Ardfert) commended the motion and said the power of the liturgy was in the understanding of the motivation. A person is engaged in a clear statement that they participated in the consecration of the elements and the congregation is made aware that the person receiving is present with them. He said it was a well fitting addition.


Canon Daniel Nuzem (Cork) said, as a hospital chaplain, Holy Communion by Extension was profoundly powerful.


Blair Halliday (Dublin) commended the service. He said he was a lay chaplain to an old people’s home and said he was looking for a service which could be used in an old people’s home where they recognise the language which is used. They want the language out of the first form of the Book of Common Prayer.


Archdeacon David Crooks spoke of his experience in the Episcopal Church in Scotland and reserved Eucharist.


In response, the Bishop of Down and Dromore, said that the breaking open of the word with someone seriously ill may have to be informal. He said the confession was in it.


A vote by Synod members saw the motion passed and it will come to General Synod next year as a Special Bill.

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