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From Columbus: Resolution calls for 'pastoral plan' for possible revision of prayer book

By Pat McCaughan
[Episcopal News Service]  Revise the Book of Common Prayer and more young people might show up at General Convention, a youth contingent told members of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee at a June 16 hearing on resolution D061.

"Our prayer book is already outdated and it is hard for my generation to relate to everything in it," said a youth, identified only as Hannah, from Northern California. She gestured to seven young adults who joined her at the podium.

"Standing behind me is the future of the church," she said. "I don't think you want to lose that. Revise the prayer book and next time there might be more of us here."

The resolution asks Convention to direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop a pastoral plan for future prayer book revision, to be presented at the 2009 convention in Anaheim, California.

The Rev. Stephanie Speller, 34, of Boston, also testified at the Friday hearing that she uses alternative resources for her diverse congregation. Our diversity "is a miracle of God's grace, but…where people enter church on Sunday morning they may see a multicultural congregation but what they hear is all European American," said Speller, whose congregation at St. Paul's Cathedral includes African Caribbean, African, African American, Chinese, Latino and Anglo parishioners.

Speller added, "After awhile you begin to feel like the marginal voices are only found in the marginal text; at what point do those voices come to the center?"

The explanation that accompanies the resolutions echoes that sentiment. "The Church strives to live fully her diversity of culture, race and age. This diversity has not yet fully found its way into the liturgical life of the Church.

"Bringing new voices and experiences to our common life of worship takes a great deal of time. In order to develop and authorize a new Book of Common Prayer, the Church will have to engage in a long process.

"In order to fully embrace the varied voices of our Church we must begin to develop a plan to pastorally rethink and revise our corporate liturgical life."