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Liturgical formation and evaluation

by
25 October 2013

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From the Revd Robert Heath
Sir, - Without wanting to prolong the debate that has followed the publication of the Revd Mark Earey's article on Common Worship (Comment, 4 October), I feel I must reply to the letter from the Revd Simon Reynolds ( 18 October).

I was ordained this Petertide after three years of part-time study. Like all my fellow ordinands, I agreed to use "only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon".

As one of Mark's former students, I feel I am now more than capable of leading worship in my home church; but, as a minister in secular employment (MSE), I am equally aware that to reach the secular members of society and those for whom attending church is a distant memory, we need to produce liturgy that is relevant and understandable to them.

Mark's teaching was always that those listening to the liturgy should feel that it is appropriate for them and that a journey in faith has been undergone. That is not to put aside Common Worship altogether, but to use the rich tradition of liturgy within the Church of England (and there is little language that is richer than the Book of Common Prayer), and present it in a way that is accessible to those not familiar with post-Reformation liturgy. That may mean permission to be more flexible in the liturgy we use.

Mark calls for evaluation of the liturgy we are using. As part of my training, I had to evaluate the written feedback from at least three members of the congregation at each service I led.

This led to some interesting insights into the views of those in the congregation, which were sometimes unexpected, and showed that what I thought I was saying was understood differently. I wonder how many clergy have elicited feedback recently or would want/dare to do so?

The evaluation of such an exercise could be enlightening for those brave enough.

ROBERT HEATH
6 Shugborough Way, Heath Hayes
Cannock, Staffs WS11 7YT

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