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A Prayer Book for the Twenty-first Century?

Stephen Burns and Bryan Cones

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In the more than thirty years that have passed since the authorization of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, scholars and practitioners of its liturgical vision have mined the riches of its “baptismal ecclesiology,” its variety of texts, and its permissive rubrics; they have also raised new questions about its inconsistencies and shortcomings. Anglican and ecumenical partner churches have adapted and improved upon material found in the BCP in their own new liturgical resources, suggesting directions for further liturgical renewal, and the Episcopal Church itself has authorized supplemental texts in its Enriching Our Worship series, which began publication in 1998. Questions concerning expansive language, the relationship between baptismal ministry and its expression in holy orders, and the contextualization of liturgy in a multicultural church have come to the fore as primary concerns of the church in the twenty-first century, with important implications for the celebration of liturgy. The authors contend that attention to these questions, particularly regarding the language of prayer and the relationships among the ministers within the assembly, requires a more comprehensive discussion of liturgical renewal in the church, including the revision of the Book of Common Prayer itself.

 
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