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Eucharistic prayers

13 July 2012

THE Synod gave final approval on Sunday afternoon to additional eucharistic prayers.

Introducing the debate, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said that the original motion, brought to the Synod in 2008, had provided a "clear brief" to provide prayers that children could "engage with", and that "reflected their needs as worshippers".

In these "excellent" prayers, this had been fulfilled. Clear principles had been followed: to maintain a "traditional structure and a theology which is acceptable to the whole Church of England"; to ensure that the language was "direct, visual, and vivid"; and to ensure that the shape of the prayers "incorporated a sense of stillness and quietness as well as drama and wonder". "Marvellous" comments from children had provided "really uplifting assurance to us all".

Canon James Allison (Wakefield), in his maiden speech, said the prayers had already changed lives in his deanery. St Peter's, Sowerby, known as "the Rock Church", had welcomed the prayers, in draft form, "with open arms". A vigil mass that drew people from the local estate featured "hybrid worship" of liturgy and rock music. The new Christians coming on Saturday night to Rock Church had doubled the size of the parish in just three years. The Synod should vote through the prayers for churches such as this, he said.

Robin Stevens (Chelmsford) said that a group of adults at his church had "prayerfully read through the second of the prayers", and had been "physically moved by what they were reading. These may be prayers for children, but they're also prayers for adults as well.

The Revd Dr Sandra Millar (Gloucester), who was part of the revision committee, said that it was "very exciting to stand at this point where we're about to have prayers available for everyone to use". There was an opportunity "for parishes to think again about admitting children to communion before confirmation", and to "think carefully about eucharist in schools".

Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford) said that the prayers had only "a couple of references" to the atonement. Children, like adults, "do have a sense of having done things they don't want to have done . . . and a desire to receive assurance for forgiveness".

The Synod voted by Houses to give final approval: Bishops: 26 nem. con; Clergy: 110 nem. con.; Laity 95 to 5, with 3 recorded abstentions.

The prayers are authorised for use from Saturday 1 September 2012 until further resolution of the Synod.

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