A Letter from Bishop Benfield

August 1, 2018

After the actions of General Convention, it is time to update our liturgical practice in the diocese. We now have approved expansive language Eucharistic texts, which means that we will focus on them rather than on earlier efforts at expansive language (for example, our past use of Enriching Our Worship, which is not a trial use text).

General Convention approved for trial use modified versions of the Rite II Holy Eucharist. You are under no obligation to use them, but you can choose to do so without further permission from me. A formatted version Holy Eucharist, Rite II, Expansive Language [PDF] is available. If you choose to make use of this trial liturgy, please print and copy the formatted document. Do NOT simply use the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, while making verbal changes that people cannot see, and do not take part of the service from the Prayer Book and part of the service from the trial use text. People need to be clear that what you are using is a distinctive, trial use liturgy that can be evaluated. You can begin to use the trial use texts immediately.

No later than September 15, 2018, the use of Holy Eucharist, Rite II, Expansive Language will replace your existing use of the Enriching Our Worship Eucharistic texts on Sundays.

For non-principal Sunday or weekly celebrations of the Holy Eucharist (for example, a small Sunday evening liturgy), instead of using the above-mentioned texts you can also use “An Order for Celebrating Holy Eucharist” on page 400 of the Book of Common Prayer. The Eucharistic canon that you use at such Sunday services can be one of the provided forms on pp. 402–405 of the Prayer Book, or from Rite I or Rite II in the Book of Common Prayer, or from Holy Eucharist, Rite II, Expansive Language. The Enriching our Worship Eucharistic texts are for occasional, non-Sunday use only. Additionally, at any time please do not use Eucharistic texts from sources such as A New Zealand Prayer Book or Common Worship from the Church of England, as they are not approved for use in The Episcopal Church.

Concerning the celebration of the lives of saints, General Convention approved the continued use of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 and Great Cloud of Witness 2015. Additionally, it approved a new resource for trial use: Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018. I do not know when this document will be available online. I will let you know as soon as I see it.

In other actions not tied to trial use, General Convention made changes to much of the Book of Occasional Services, and these changes will be made available digitally in the near future. Many of the changes included making liturgies available in Spanish, as well as adding liturgies for use in varied cultural settings. I do not know when this revision will be available online; I will let you know as soon as I see it. There are no current plans to issue a printed book, especially in light of more work that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music needs to do on some remaining parts of the Book of Occasional Services.

There are four revised customaries on the diocesan website: Confirmation, Bishop’s Visitation, Administration of Communion by a Deacon or Eucharistic Visitor, and Officiating at Weddings (specifically same-sex weddings). Most of the revisions answer a few questions that I am frequently asked, and I suggest that you review them. The customary on Officiating at Weddings reviews the liturgies that are now available for trial use in every congregation as a result of actions of the most recent General Convention (namely, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage”, “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2”, “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage 2”, and “An Order for Marriage 2”). You do not need my permission to use these liturgies for same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples.