A011 Develop Local Commemorations
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring,
That the 80th General Convention affirm the following process and guiding questions for developing and nurturing local commemorations; and be it further
Resolved, that this process shall be included in the Appendices to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.
Crafting Liturgical Commemorations
History demonstrates that liturgical commemorations originate in the local community. Indeed, all proposed additions to the Calendar of the Church ought to begin as local commemorations. Included below is a process for developing such local observances, as well as some guiding questions that might help the local community through the process.
The Book of Common Prayer (pp. 13, 18, 195, and 246) permits memorials not listed in the Calendar, provides collects and readings for them (the Common of Saints), and recognizes the bishop’s authority to set forth devotions for occasions for which no prayer or service has been provided by the Prayer Book. Although the Prayer Book does not require the bishop’s permission to use the Common of Saints for memorials not included in the Calendar, it is appropriate that the bishop’s consent be requested.
While these guidelines are general in nature, and not exhaustive in scope or situation, this process is suggested for initiating local, diocesan, or regional memorials.
1. Establishment: A congregation, diocese, other community or organization establishes a commemoration for a specific person/occasion, on a specific day.
• Who/what is being commemorated? Why is this commemoration beneficial to the local community’s liturgical life? What would be lost if the commemoration were not observed? (See the most recent set of criteria for inclusion in the Calendar of the Church; and the set of Holy Days, BCP p. 16, that take precedence on their dates.)
2. Collects and Readings: A collect and readings from the Common of Saints are chosen and used. Perhaps a new collect may be composed, and a new collection of readings assigned for use in the commemoration. The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and local diocesan liturgical bodies are available for consultation.
• How might selections from Holy Scripture and the chosen, or new, collect communicate the reason for observing the commemoration? What selections of Holy Scripture will help the congregation to better understand the commemoration? What do we need to pray for in the collect to better understand the commemoration?
3. Observance: The congregation, diocese, province, or organization proceeds to annually observe the commemoration in their regular liturgical life.
• How might you invite others to join the celebration? Does it make sense to invite the local community? Nearby congregations? The diocese? The province?
4. Evaluation: The local community should engage in ongoing evaluation of the commemoration. The evaluation should include conversation with members of the community and with participants in the observance. Earlier steps should be revisited if necessary.
• How has your thinking in previous steps evolved through your observance of the commemoration? What have you learned? What feedback have you received? What has surprised you as you’ve observed the commemoration? To what extent has the local community embraced the observance? Does anything need to change? How might the readings and collect need to be adapted?
5. Wider Recognition: Those interested in promoting a wider commemoration then begin to share the developed materials with others, suggesting that they also adopt the commemoration. If at some time it is desired to propose it for optional observance by the wider Church, documented evidence of the spread and duration of local commemoration is essential to include in the proposal to the General Convention.
• Why should the commemoration be observed by the wider Church? What would the wider Church lose if it did not observe this commemoration? How would this commemoration strengthen or balance the Calendar of the Church? (See the most recent set of criteria for inclusion in the Calendar of the Church.)
Some commemorations, perhaps many, will remain local, diocesan, or regional in character. This in no way reduces their importance to those who revere and seek to keep alive the memory of beloved and faithful witnesses to Christ. Regardless of local or Church-wide use, The Book of Common Prayer welcomes regular, local commemorations in the liturgical life of the Church.
The earliest, liturgical recognition of an extraordinary witness to Jesus Christ happens at the local level. The impact of an individual Christian is felt, recorded, and retold by those who knew them best; and from these recollections, a liturgical commemoration might begin to take shape. The SCLM reaffirms that the local process is both vitally important and under-supported by the Church. Therefore, in this triennium, the Calendar Committee has collected materials to help congregations celebrate their saints.
The SCLM recommends this process as local worshipping communities begin to identify local exemplars of Christian discipleship and offers its assistance to those crafting liturgies of commemoration.