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'Electronic Common Prayer' for Palm handhelds aids personal devotions, portable prayer

[Episcopal News Service]  With the First Sunday of Advent marking the start of the new church year December 3 and the beginning of the new cycle of Daily Office readings, people of faith don't have to wait for New Year's or Lent to take on a new practice of personal devotion.

A new software product from Church Publishing Inc. helps busy people keep up with personal devotions—even when they're on the move.

"eCP: electronic Common Prayer" offers users of PalmOS mobile devices a downloadable, interactive, calendar-based tool that highlights the designated liturgical celebration of the day and provides links to the full text of the appointed Daily Office readings and the Eucharistic lectionary, according to a news release from Church Publishing.

eCP also features all daily Office texts – Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline – all canticles, psalms, collects, proper prefaces, prayers, and frequently used services from the Book of Common Prayer, including Baptism, Holy Eucharist Rite I and II, the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, Ministration at the Time of Death, Burial of the Dead, and the services of Holy Week.

Launching eCP and tapping on the Calendar button takes users to the day's display, where they see, for example, that Thursday, November 30, 2006, is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle in Eucharistic Lectionary Year B and Daily Office Year II; the liturgical color for the day is red; and that the Daily Office readings are Zechariah 13:1-9, Ephesians, 1:15-23, and Luke 19:11-27, with Psalms 131, 132, and 133 appointed for Morning Prayer and Psalms 134 and 135 appointed for Evening Prayer. Tapping on the readings links takes users to the full text of each reading from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible and the Prayer Book psalter.

"eCP is a terrific way to have a rich personal devotional life, even if you're constantly on the go," said Susan Erdey, Church Publishing's director of electronic publishing and the eCP project leader. "Anyone can pray the Daily Office — on a bus, subway or train during a commute, or waiting at the airport for a flight. You can pause for Noonday Prayer before eating lunch. I spend the first part of my commute reading Morning Prayer on my Treo before answering e-mail. It's a much healthier way to start the day."

The application also gives clergy a convenient and portable way to offer prayers at a hospital bedside, outdoor Eucharists at church camp, or prayers at the graveside.

"We heard from many clergy who are managing their busy ministry lives with the aid of mobile devices and who want the services of the prayer book and the Daily Office readings right at their fingertips along with their calendars, e-mail, and cell phone," Erdey said.

eCP also represents a breakthrough in using Palm technology to deliver a large volume of material interactively, according to Church Publishing's release.

 Developed by Vorpalware, a software company based in California's Silicon Valley that specializes in products for mobile and wireless devices, eCP may set a record for sheer quantity of data included in the application. To accommodate the varying amount of available memory on users' Palm devices, the eCP application is available with three months and six months of scriptural content. Registered users can come back to the product's download site and download new batches of content as often as they wish, as new versions of the content are uploaded on the first day of each month. A user who installs a three-month version on December 2, for example, would receive scriptural content for the Daily Office readings through the end of February, when she would come back to the downloads page and download another chunk of readings.

A version of eCP for PocketPC devices is in development for 2007 release. Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings for the Eucharistic lectionary will be incorporated into new releases of eCP before the RCL becomes the authorized Eucharistic lectionary of the Episcopal Church in Advent 2007.

eCP: electronic Common Prayer is available as a downloadable application for $29.95 on Church Publishing's website. click here: .