Witnesses Testify on Inclusive and Expansive Language

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The Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music Committee heard testimony about four resolutions in the second of three hearings it conducted on February 19. The hearing drew three deputies who had registered to testify, in addition to committee members and a few observers.

Two of the three witnesses testified on Resolution A060, which endorses a set of guidelines on the use of expansive and inclusive language in the Episcopal Church.

Deputy Cameron Partridge, who served on the task force that developed the guidelines, noted the work was done in collaboration with the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music (SCLM), in response to resolution A068 from the 2018 General Convention that “explicitly asked”  for the development of guidelines. He said the work “takes an approach that is additive, rather than neutralizing or negative.”

Deputy Richard Pryor told the committee he believes further “guardrails” are needed in development of expansive or inclusive language, at least in prayers we share with member churches of the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC). Pryor quoted from the foreword of the ELLC’s Prayers We Have in Common, that “there has been a growing realization that, at least in regard to those prayers which are common to all Christian confessions, this work should not be done independently by the various Churches, but should be done by them together” to be respectful of our ecumenical commitment.”

The committee also heard testimony from Deputy Jack Tull in support of Resolution A015, which would authorize trial use of expansive language in Eucharistic Prayer C in Rite II and translate the trial language into Spanish, French and Haitian Creole.

Tull also spoke in favor of Resolution A005, which calls for translations of Enriching Our Worship (volumes 1-6) and The Book of Occasional Services, and Lesser Feasts and Fasts into Spanish, French and Haitian Creole.

He also supported Resolution A006 to authorize the publication of a revised version of The Book of Occasional Services, but said he didn’t think it was clear whether the intent was to include in the revised book the specific services mentioned in the resolution. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, committee chair, said the committee would make sure the intent is clear in final language.