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Church in Wales Governing Body: Liturgical resources

28 April 2023

Dave Custance

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron

THE Church in Wales has been encouraged to be creative in its approach to liturgy, and the Governing Body voted to welcome and commend the latest addition to the Times and Seasons resources for the Church’s year.

“Welcoming, animating liturgy, accessible to those outside the Church, speaks to the hearts and minds of the people of Wales in different contexts,” the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, said at its launch on Wednesday of last week.

The five sections of the new resource cover the Agricultural Year, Environment, Industrial Sunday, Coastline, and Life and Wellbeing. “The world is concerned not just with issues of redemption but of creation,” the Bishop said. “This seeks to speak into the liturgical opportunity to enhance our resource to speak more powerfully for the creation.”

The Sub-Dean of Llandaff, Canon Mark Preece (Llandaff), who chairs the Liturgical Advisory Commission, said that the materials showed “deep concerns for God’s created world under threat”. Material for occasions such as as Creation Sunday, Plough Sunday, Rogationtide, Lammas Tide, and Harvest Festival, fall within the first section. The final section, for life and well-being, includes resources for survivors of abuse, and for matters such as organ donation.

The motion was seconded by Canon John Connell (Monmouth). In 29 years of ministry, he had “experienced the power of good liturgy and been involved in renewing the liturgical life of parishes ever since”, he told the Governing Body. “Good liturgy done well has power. . . It can and should become the very springboard for the Christian mission.”

Susan Fogarty (Bangor), said that the material couldn’t have come out at a better time for her own mission. She was as just about to begin work with the National Trust on “Finding God in the Garden”.

The Dean of Newport, the Very Revd Ian Black (Monmouth), said that he frequently used the Times and Seasons liturgies. “They have been enriching the Cathedral’s liturgy, how we tell the story of God’s love and redemption,” he said.

Jonathan Sadler (co-opted) was uneasy about the memorial service for people who had died homeless. He found it “a bit jovial and insensitive”, and wanted it made clear that heaven was “only the home of those who have died in Christ”.

The Revd Naomi Starkey (Bangor), commended the creativity of the resources. But she had taken occasions such as blessing a pet as an opportunity to be creative herself: “If everything is authorised, are we trying to nail things everywhere?” she asked. “Good liturgy is what you see through to the greater truth behind. I would hesitate to use some of these liturgies because they speak too loudly of themselves.”

Andrew Sims (Llandaff), would welcome further expressions of a church’s inclusivity, expressions of hope. Could the section on life and well-being be a springboard towards this, he wondered. “Liturgical response is one of the ways in which I feel heard.” Could there perhaps be liturgies for people with learning difficulties, or those who were neuro-divergent?

Robert Dawson (St Asaph) wondered how the life events had been chosen in the section on well-being. Perhaps there could be liturgy for those suffering an addiction, or caught up in modern slavery?

The Revd Sam Aldred (Swansea & Brecon) reflected that, sometimes, liturgy was “a little like Japanese knotweed. It keeps expanding and expanding. Cranmer had one liturgy for all people. Now it’s taken out of the hands of the people into the hands of a liturgical committee.” He detected purple prose and some pieces that were “a bit embarrassing”, referring to the prayers on the death of a homeless person.

Bishop Gregory expressed his gratitude for those willing to say hard things: “We need criticism as well as praise,” he said. He reminded the Governing Body: “These are resources. They are not compulsory liturgies. You don’t have to use them. It is your judgement and your opportunity — you can discard all four volumes, if you wish.”

The Governing Body voted to approve the new resources for use, with eight against and five abstentions. The motion read:

 

That the Governing Body:

  1. Welcome the Times and Seasons resources produced by the Standing Liturgical Advisory Commission and
  2. Commend the liturgical resources within Times and Seasons (Volumes 1-IV) for use in the Church in Wales in accordance with paragraph 3 of the Canon to Authorise and Regulate Minor Variations to Authorised Liturgies 2022.

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