The Society, Foreward in Faith, the Prayer Book Society, and the CofE

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Liturgyworks, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Member

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    These three groups I support enormously (the Prayer Book Society mainly because of the lectionary, the Litany, Holy Matrimony, and Morning and Evening Prayer; as far as the Eucharist is concerned I prefer the Scottish Non Juring family of communion services with the Epiclesis of the Liturgy of St. James*, or the use of the forms of the Roman Canon used in the old Sarum Rite, York Rite, Hereford Rite, Durham Rite or the Stowe Missal, preferrably in traditional English, as well as other ancient communion services, but this being said, I love the Book of Common Prayer).**

    So, out of curiosity, what kind of an impact are they having? Do they stand any chance of carving out an ACNA-style niche for the traditional faith?

    *Is there a Prayer Book Society in Scotland?
    ** In the case of Canada, which has probably my favorite BCP edition, I would support their Prayer Book Society on absolute terms. I like the 1662 BCP, but I am a bit too high church to support its use unconditionally.
     
  2. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    Forward in Faith is a relic of the time immediately before the Anglican Realignment.
     
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  3. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Member

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    So what is happening for traditional Anglicanism in the UK since then? The Society?
     
  4. peter

    peter Active Member

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    I am a member of the Prayer Book Society. Their main work is in promoting awareness of the Prayer Book, helping to match sympathetic priests with sutiable vacancies, educating schoolchildren through the Cranmer Awards, and organising an annual conference which will be held this year at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester during August.

    The BCP 1662 incidentially can certainly be used in a high church fashion, I have attended such services on many occasions.

    Forward in Faith is essentially an organisation for Anglo-Catholics and focuses in particular, along with the clerically led Society, on clearly identifiying parishes which hold to a Biblical view of a male-only priesthood.
     
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  5. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Member

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    Indeed. What I’m curious about is how successful the Prayer Book Society and Forward in Faith / the Society have been in terms of their efforts to preserve the BCP and traditional Anglo Catholicism, respectively.

    By the way, regarding the 1662 BCP, Ritual Notes, the Directorum Anglicanorum, and A Parson’s Handbook by Fr. Percy Dearmer are classic examples of how to use it in an Anglo-Catholic manner. The Deposited Book or the Scottish Book could be hypothetically easier as far as Holy Communion is concerned, but all of the above are preferrable to Common Worship. Also, Morning Prayer, the Litany, and Evensong in the 1662 BCP are perfect, and there are so many musical settings of those services; if one doesn’t use the 1662 BCP or something very close to it for the Divine Office, the selection of usable music plunges dramatically.
     
  6. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    I would say that the BCP is still used a fair amount in the CofE for HC on weekdays and Mattins/Evensong on Sundays. The extent of its use varies from diocese to diocese. In my diocese about a third of parishes use the BCP this way.

    We sang BCP Mattins at my parish church this morning. Our Cathedral does a fine Solemn Evensong with smoke and also uses the BCP regularly for HC on weekdays. A couple of neighbouring churches are exclusively BCP. For five years I’ve been a commissioned lay minister and leading BCP Mattins/Evensong was covered in training.
     
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  7. peter

    peter Active Member

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    Early morning BCP HC is also reasonably common. In my experience, Mattins has become somewhat rarer, but that might just be in my neck of the woods. You will rarely find a Sung Eucharist that is pure BCP, but some parishes do hold a service that uses substantial elements of the Prayer Book. The Litany is lamentably rare, though Winchester Cathedral include it as part of the Good Friday Liturgy.

    The Prayer Book Society has played its part in keeping the BCP alive and it remains part of the life of many parishes. On the other hand, Forward in Faith/The Society see themselves more as a church within a church, maintaining, together with the various other Catholic Societies, a seperate Anglo-Catholic community within the Church of England, though the women's ordination issue does make this inevitable to a degree.
     
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  8. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Yes, in my diocese churches in the larger towns still have an early Sunday morning HC although not always BCP. Some even have an early sung HC as they have a praise band contemporary style service for their main Sunday worship. (Not my cup of tea!)

    My parish church used to have 3 Sunday services; 8am said HC BCP, 9.30am Sung Eucharist Series2/RiteB and 6pm Evensong BCP. There was also a regular weekday HC and HC on major feast days. Since the early 2000's our parish was made part of a united benefice which has 4 churches. Our Rector is no longer resident in the village. Fortunately we have an Associate Priest and a Licensed Reader and some Commissioned Lay Ministers so we can maintain regular worship at each church. At my church we maintain a Sung Eucharist using Common Worship traditional language and monthly sung MP BCP. Sadly we no longer have an early Sunday or weekday HC at my church and EP is only on occasional basis.

    When able, I like to attend mid week Eucharists for saint's days at the cathedral. These are Solemn Eucharists done in a Dearmer-like way. Sadly these are quite poorly attended and the congregation are invited so sit in the Canon's stalls which I like.

    There used to be 3 Nonconformist Chapels and a small RC Chapel in my village. The Weslyan was demolished in the 1970's and the Bible Christian quite recently converted to apartments. Only the URC Chapel remains and is now an ecumenical partnership with the remaining Methodists. We have a good relationship with them and have joint services for Christian Aid, Remembrance etc.

    Although my diocese has always been high and had a good share of Ritualism, FinF never had much of a presence here. There are now just 2 or 3 churches aligned to FinF. I used to attend evening Masses at a FinF church in the village where I then worked. They were very poorly attended with usually just myself, the Churchwarden and the Rector! Sunday Mass was better attended but I think the Rector's extreme Anglo-Catholicism was just too much for the parishioners. The Rector resigned and took early retirement over the issue of female Priests and the said church soon got a female Priest-in-Charge and things picked up from there.
     
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  9. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Member

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    Out of curiosity, can the laity organize to conduct Evensong? It seems that in the absence of priests to serve the divine office, lay involvement in some of these merged super-parishes which we now see in the C of E (regrettably) could facilitate it, since, correct me if I am wrong on this point, only the Absolution requires a priest.
     
  10. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Yes, a layperson may indeed lead Evensong or some other non Eucharistic service. Examples might include, Mattins, Evensong, Service of the Word, Carol Service, Family Service etc. In the CofE (as far as I'm aware) such a layperson would mean a Commissioned Lay Minister or Licensed Reader, not just any member of the congregation who'd like to have a go! There are now a lot of Commissioned Lay Ministers in the CofE who are able to lead these types of services as there are many churches merged into larger benefices and not always enough ordained ministers to go round.

    In the absence of a priest (such as the priest not turning up to take the service) the churchwarden is also permitted to lead Morning or Evening Prayer.

    I'm a Commissioned Lay Minister at my church. Training in my diocese involved fortnightly evening classes over a 6 month period. There was some additional home study and in order to be commissioned, candidates had to produce a substantial portfolio of notes and liturgies/services. We were also assessed on our ability to lead worship. In my diocese we're commissioned for a period of 5 years. We're permitted to lead worship only in our own benefice - in my case that's 4 churches. Training requirements vary from diocese to diocese.

    We are of course not permitted to pronounce the absolution but may turn the words around; so, 'may the Lord have mercy upon you... ' becomes 'may the Lord have mercy upon us...'

    We're not permitted to preach either but may give a reflection or read a sermon that has been approved by the priest. In my diocese it was suggested that Commissioned Lay Ministers could lead a Communion by Extension Service (like a Communion Service led by a layperson in the RC Church) but our diocesan Bishop said absolutely not.

    As well as leading non Eucharistic worship, we're encouraged to take an active role within the Eucharist such as ministering as an altar server. I don't do this however as I'm more regularly engaged as organist.
     
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  11. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Member

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    First of all, let me say how much I appreciate the work you do, the dedication you clearly put into it, and also your critical work as an organist; if only 1% of the people in every church and every denomination did everything you do, I believe there would be no talk of “Christianity in Crisis,” and you strike me as being a saint and an ecclesiastical hero. :)

    I particularly admire you for dealing with what strikes me as absurd, superfluous bureaucracy. Some of these restrictions strike me as being a bit excessive, indeed, all of them, I have to confess. Mind you, in my own church any laic can lead a reader service and this is done as there are not enough bishops or chorepiscopi to ordain enough readers for all contingencies where the priest might need to be absent. That said, at least it sounds like there is an organized process whereby those who feel called to do can be trained and vetted; we don’t have this in Orthodoxy and this can create bottlenecks in terms of officially ordaining ministers in minor orders, but then again, such an official status, while desirable, is not required.

    It seems like traditional Anglicanism would indicate a scenario where your function is provided by ordained Readers, that ordination to this or other minor orders should be for life, and that laity should be able to serve outside their home parish with the permission of the rectors or churchwardens, and that based on the rubrics of the 1662 BCP, the homilies contained in the Book of Homilies should also be automatically available. For that matter, probably in technical violation of various rubrics or canons, John Wesley introduced lay preachers and was never deposed; another part of me feels like it sets a double standard to allow Wesley to have done what he did while remaining an ordained presbyter, while disallowing this at present (the Methodists in Great Britain broke away from the Church of England only after his death, and in my opinion this was a tragic mistake, and I have to confess that I don’t greatly admire the Methodists in the UK, whereas in the US the schism had other causes and probably would not have occurred had John Wesley been in close communication with Bishop Seabury and the Scottish Non Jurors, but there was something of a fog of war lingering across the Atlantic even after the Peace of Paris). And I can find no justification for mandatory retirement ages for clergy; indeed this idea seems contrary to a high church conception of vocation, and in like manner you should, in my opinion, be able to continue to serve in your capacity without a five year renewal.

    Thus the respect I have for you is multiplied, the product of the enormous contributions you make in your benefice as a lay minister, your service as an organist, the skill and training required for the latter, and the (in my opinion, excessive and unwarranted) bureaucratic hoops you have had to jump through in order to serve in your capacity. :)
     
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  12. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your kind words although I'm still working on the saintly bit...aren't we all!

    I don't really see the situation as bureaucracy but more a case of sensibly limiting the extent to which we operate in the church. Licensed Readers (also known as Licensed Lay Ministers) aren't under such restrictions and their role is much more extensive. The process for Reader selection and training is also much more rigorous than for Commissioned Lay Ministers. In my diocese Reader training takes 3 years. (Readers aren't ordained ministers in the CofE - we don't have minor orders.)

    More about Readers here:
    https://www.readers.cofe.anglican.org/info.php

    It's actually quite easy to become a Commissioned Lay Minister. Alongside having a sense of calling to the ministry the requirements are to be baptised and a regular communicant and to have the approval of the Rector/Vicar & Parish Church Council.

    I was recommissioned just before Christmas and sentenced by the Archdeacon to another 5 years of Mattins and Evensong. Joking aside, it was nice to see some much younger people being commissioned this time round. When I trained we were all middle aged or older.
     
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  13. PDL

    PDL Member Anglican

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    Preserving the BCP (1662) is the goal of the Prayer Book Society. It is not the aim of Forward in Faith or The Society. They exist for different purposes.

    I think use of the BCP is less common among Anglo-Catholics than in times past because there are not the same consequences for not using it as there once was. My parish for a long time, which was Anglo-Catholic, used the BCP. All Masses were celebrated ad orientem and for some the BCP was used. We always had Choral Evensong from BCP every Sunday, the first of the two Sunday Masses was BCP, and at least one weekday Mass was BCP, with Thursday morning's Mass always BCP. Then our priest reached retirement age and retired. To be fair he ought to have retired earlier on health grounds but he carried on because he knew what his retirement meant. It meant the bishop swooped in and closed our parish. The parish that swallowed us up uses Common Worship with great indifference as to how the liturgy is celebrated.

    My wife and I travel on Sundays so we can attend an Anglo-Catholic parish. We go because it's the nearest and they're hard to find these days but not because we like it there. It's like being in a time warp. It's how I imagine a Roman Catholic parish that fully embraced Vatican II might have been in the '70s. They have a few copies of the BCP but I only asked about them once. I formed the impression that if I mentioned them too much it would simply remind them they had these "old worthless books" and they would throw them out.

    So, no I don't believe you can say the BCP and Anglo-Catholicism* go hand in hand and neither Forward in Faith nor The Society have the BCP's preservation as their goals. That doesn't infer they don't want to preserve the BCP just that it's not their reason for existing. I think that the use of the BCP among Anglo-Catholics is probably as variable as it is among other churches within the C of E.

    *Of course, even this term must be used nowadays with some clarification. There are parishes that describe themselves as Anglo-Catholic but take a look at their website's 'Who's Who' and you find may be the incumbent or some other 'priest' in the parish is a woman. To me those are not Anglo-Catholics.
     
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