The report of the Liturgical Advisory Committee was presented to Synod on Friday morning. Proposing it, 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 (which will have a dark blue cover). There will be two other booklets alongside it. One will be Morning and Evening Prayer for Use on Sunday with some seasonal services – meaning people who own green BCPs can buy the booklet rather than having to pulp their existing books.
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, he said, but it was always imaginative. 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 was 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.”
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. And the music sub-committee was working to help congregations to re-engage 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, the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven Robert Miller, asked that the liturgy be made accessible on the website. Rev Ivan Dinsmore, Rector of Ardstraw, Baronscourt, Badoney Lower with Greenan, Badoney Upper, spoke about the need for liturgies which combined the best of Church of Ireland traditions with modern, contemporary language services.
There were two motions associated with the Liturgical Advisory Committee. The first, 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. The motion was passed by Synod and will be presented next year as a special Bill at Synod in Londonderry.
The second motion sought that leave be given for the introduction of a Bill in the next General Synod 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 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. “The way in which it works is this,” the Bishop explained. “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.
Canon David Crooks shared his experience with the Episcopal Church in Scotland, where the sacrament was reserved and taken by a rector or curate to the sick and housebound. Canon Crooks said he commended this highly and supported the motion.
A vote by Synod members saw the motion passed and it, too, will come to General Synod next year as a Special Bill.