A010 Lesser Feasts and Fasts Revision Principles
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring,
That the following Principles of Revision be approved by the 80th General Convention and substituted for the previous Principles most recently affirmed by the 76th Convention (2009) and published in Holy Women, Holy Men.
Principle of Revision
The qualifications and benchmarks for inclusion in the church calendar are as follows.
- Historicity: Christianity is a radically historical religion, so in almost every instance it is not theological realities or spiritual movements but exemplary witness to the Gospel of Christ in lives actually lived that is commemorated in the Calendar.
- Christian Discipleship: The death of the saints, precious in God’s sight, is the ultimate witness to the power of the Resurrection. What is being commemorated, therefore, is the completion in death of a particular Christian’s living out of the promises of baptism. Baptism is, therefore, a necessary prerequisite for inclusion in the Calendar.
- Significance: Those commemorated should have been in their lifetime extraordinary, even heroic servants of God and God's people for the sake, and after the example, of Jesus Christ. They may also be people whose creative work or whose manner of life has glorified God, enriched the life of the Church, or led others to a deeper understanding of God. In their varied ways, those commemorated have revealed Christ's presence in, and Lordship over, all of history; and continue to inspire us as we carry forward God's mission in the world. Commemoration thereby reminds us of our participation in the great cloud of witnesses: our own membership in a timeless community that surrounds and supports us, equipping us for ministry in the world, and moving us toward maturity in Christ.
- Memorability: The Calendar should include those who, through their devotion to Christ and their joyful and loving participation in the community of the faithful, deserve to be remembered by the Episcopal Church today. However, in order to celebrate the whole history of salvation, it is important also to include those “whose memory may have faded in the shifting fashions of public concern, but whose witness is deemed important to the life and mission of the Church” (Thomas Talley).
- Range of Inclusion: The Calendar especially includes Episcopalians and other members of the Anglican Communion. Focusing above all on principles of Christian witness and discipleship, and honoring the movement of the Holy Spirit in the establishment of local observance, the Calendar seeks to represent the full breadth and depth of the Body of Christ.
- Local, Organic Observance: Similarly, it should be the case that significant commemoration of a particular person already exists at the local and regional levels before that person is included in the Calendar.
- Perspective: It should normatively be the case that a person be included in the Calendar only after two generations or fifty years have elapsed since that person's death. The passage of time permits the testing and flowering of their Christian witness.
- Levels of Commemoration: Principal Feasts, Sundays and Major Holy Days have primacy of place in the Church's liturgical observance. It does not seem appropriate to distinguish between the various other commemorations by regarding some as having either a greater or a lesser claim on our observance of them. Each commemoration should be given equal weight as far as the provision of the liturgical propers is concerned (including the listing of three lessons).
- Distribution of Commemorations: Normally, joint commemoration will arise through shared Christian witness or date of death. In some cases, unrelated commemorations will occur on the same date. In the observance of lesser feasts, the preference of the local community may be exercised.
The Principles of Revision of the Calendar (aka Criteria for calendar inclusion) were last revised by the SCLM in 2015 and passed by the 78th General Convention (2015-A056). Within the work of the Calendar Committee, further clarification of the Principles was done, and the SCLM presents this revision within the context of ongoing requests to add commemorations to the Calendar, many of which do not meet the criteria. We hope that individuals and dioceses will use these Principles when deciding whether to propose their revision.