The resolution on “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” came before the House of Deputies yesterday. It passed, but with a very interesting amendment.
Rather than being “authorized”, convention will now “make [GCW] available for publication and distribution by individuals and in congregations and other church groups for devotional or catechetical use, or use in public worship subject to the provision for optional commemorations on page 18 of the Book of Common Prayer.
As I read this, GCW will then have the same force as “Daily Prayer for All Seasons”. Which is to say—not a whole lot. Essentially, it will be an entirely optional supplementary book. Any one concerned about its “criteria for inclusion” no longer needs to be concerned because it is not actually official this way.
This will mean some revision to the text of the document; part of the premise of GCW was that the official sanctoral calendar of the Episcopal Church would be formally established as the Holy Days as designated in sections 1-3 of the Calndar section of the BCP. If GCW is available, then it has no legislative force and references to this designation will need to be removed.
I must say—this is a very interesting development! It raises some questions which will have to be both thought through carefully and interpreted.
1. This means that Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2006 still remains the official sanctoral document of the Episcopal Church. It is now back on the digital shelves of Church Publishing in hardcover form; we need a digital form as well.
2. The official criteria for sanctity in the Episcopal Church are the criteria listed on 491-3 in LFF2006. Page 492 includes the line: “Baptism is, therefore, a necessary prerequisite for inclusion in the Calendar.”
3. As the resolution currently stands, GCW is “made available” but Weekday Eucharistic Propers 2015 is still “authorize[d] for trial use.” So one-half of the two-part work is authorized, the other simply made available. Interesting… Will WEP2015 make sense as a standalone work? I suppose we’ll see.
4. The big question from where I sit is what happens to the related resolutions, i.e., those pertaining to the revised collects and to the Big List of Additions. Are they still directed towards GCW only? If so, what are the implications of those if they are only being “made available”?
5. In line with the “made available” designation, I’m now not entirely sure what we will have to report back to GC79 as directed in the last few resolves. It seems to me that this may now be as simple as “yes, it’s available…”
We’ll see how things proceed from here. Since it has been amended, this resolution will need to go back to the House of Bishops and be voted upon again. Of course, if that doesn’t happen—if it doesn’t get re-consented—then the discussion is done and LFF2006 remains our official sanctoral resource with no further direction for the SCLM to do anything with the structure of the Calendar. (Which would not be a bad thing in my book.)