The TREC report is out.
That sentence means something to a certain sort of Episcopalian. If you’re one of them, this is likely old news and you’ve probably already read it. If it doesn’t mean anything to you, you probably won’t care…
People who know far more about this kind of thing than I do are already writing reactions, chief among them being Crusty Old Dean; I’m waiting to hear thoughts from Susan Snook and Scott Gunn too.
One of the recommendations is that all of General Convention’s Standing Commissions should be swept away but two: the Standing Commission on Constitution & Canons and the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music.
They recommend “Renaming the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music ‘Theology, Liturgy, and Music’ to enhance its role in evaluating and developing proposals related to the core Episcopal identity and Church life in aspects of Anglican tradition, worship, and
I must confess to having a few concerns here… I have, in the past, been quite critical of the work of the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music; I was punished for that by being appointed to it, and currently serve as Secretary as well as co-chair of the Calendar subcommittee and chair of the Digital Publications subcommittee.
One of the current issues is the status of the “music” part of the SCLM. There are already concerns that “music” is an afterthought in the current composition of the Commission. For instance, I can hold down a bass part in a choir pretty well, but that doesn’t make me a church musician by any stretch of the imagination. Too, I am one of the few advocates for “traditional” church music on the Commission. My fear is that adding “Theology” to the Commission’s title and purview will even further dilute musical representation on the Commission. If the “music” roles are headed by one or two people, then their perspectives—whether representative or not of what the church wants or needs—will be magnified in policy-making decisions.
Second, what will the selection criteria for the Commission look like going forward? Will the addition of “Theology” in the name mean a further shift in the composition and role of the Commission? Will we be looking for musicians, liturgists, sacramental theologians, dogmatic theologians, or people who are somehow all of the above? There are many gifted, well-trained, sacramental theologians who cannot be depended upon to draft a decent collect. There are skilled liturgists who would be clueless if directed to point the new EOW canticles for Anglican chant. Are too many roles being consolidated in one Commission?
Perhaps TREC’s idea is not necessarily to change anything about the Commission, only to underscore the relationship that liturgy and theology should have in the Episcopal Church. But look at what the SCLM has produced recently. How do we judge the theological content and implications of Holy Women, Holy Men and Daily Prayer For All Seasons? Have theological deliberations been done carefully and well here? I’d like to think that my subcommittee has been intentional in addressing and articulating issues of theology in the creation of “Great Cloud of Witnesses” (which you’ll get to take your potshots at when the Blue Book reports are made public), but there’s still quite a lot not said and not done here.
While I appreciate the weight placed on the Commission’s work, I find myself wondering if this is a good idea…