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 (
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.
6 Shugborough Way, Heath Hayes
Cannock, Staffs WS11 7YT