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The Baptismal Covenant and the Proposed Anglican Covenant

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 December 2011

Abstract

An exploration of the development and meaning of the text of the Baptismal Covenant in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church provides the basis for a discussion of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. The article concludes by suggesting how biblical, theological and liturgical understandings of covenant offer a perspective by which to assess the proposed Covenant for the Anglican Communion.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust 2012

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Footnotes

1.

Ruth A. Meyers is Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA.

References

2. Texts of the American prayer books (1786 [proposed], 1789, 1892, 1928, and 1979), along with those of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, are presented in parallel format in Marshall, Paul V., Prayer Book Parallels (New York: Church Hymnal Corp., 1989), here pp. 292–295.Google Scholar

3. In the Episcopal Church, the Book of Common Prayer is established by the Constitution, which also sets forth procedures for revision. Except for revision of the lectionary, any revision of the Book of Common Prayer must be voted on by two successive General Conventions. Hence after being approved as the ‘proposed’ book in 1976, the Prayer Book was ‘adopted’ by the 1979 Convention.

4. Meyers, Ruth A., Continuing the Reformation: Re-Visioning Baptism in the Episcopal Church (New York: Church Publishing, 1997), pp. 205206.Google Scholar

5. Holy Baptism, together with A Form for Confirmation or the Laying-On of Hands by the Bishop with the Affirmation of Baptismal Vows, Prayer Book Studies 26 (New York: Church Hymnal Corp., 1973), p. 12. An introduction to this rite makes no comment on the term ‘baptismal covenant’, suggesting that it was unremarkable in the eyes of the drafting committee and Standing Liturgical Commission: Stevick, Daniel B., Holy Baptism, together with a Form for the Affirmation of Baptismal Vows with the Laying-On of Hands by the Bishop also called Confirmation, Supplement to Prayer Book Studies 26 (New York: Church Hymnal Corp., 1973).Google Scholar

6. Holy Baptism; A Form for Confirmation, for Reception, and for the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows, Authorized for Trial Use during 1975–1976 (New York: Church Hymnal Corp., 1975), p. 10.Google Scholar

7. Spinks, Bryan, Reformation and Modern Rituals and Theologies of Baptism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), p. 175.Google Scholar

8. Spinks describes the changes introduced in 1662, which include the addition of the question ‘Wilt thou then obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life?’ as ‘mainly cosmetic and stylistic’. Reformation and Modern Rituals, p. 77.

9. LaCugna, Catherine Mowry, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), pp. 401402.Google Scholar

10. Anderson, Bonnie, ‘Letters to the Editor: The Pressures Faced by Today's Clergy’, 14 August 2010; available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/opinion/l15clergy.html (accessed 15 October 2010).Google Scholar

11. Spinks, Reformation and Modern Rituals, p. 82.Google Scholar

12. Cited by Podmore, Colin, ‘The Baptismal Revolution in the American Episcopal Church: Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Baptismal Covenant’, Ecclesiology, 6.1 (2010), pp. 838 (30).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

13. The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1985), pp. 158159.Google Scholar

14. The Episcopal Church in the Philippines, The Book of Common Prayer (no publisher, 1999), pp. 184–185.

15. Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, Livro de Oração Comun (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 1988), pp. 165–66; Church of Melanesia, ‘Revised Order of Service for Holy Baptism’ (no publisher, 2001), pp. 8–9.

16. Common Worship: Initiation Services (London: Church Publishing, 1998), p. 42Google Scholar; Scottish Episcopal Church, ‘Holy Baptism’ (2006), p. 5; available at: http://www.scotland.anglican.org/index.php/liturgy/liturgy/holy_baptism_2006/ (accessed 14 June 2011)Google Scholar.

17. The Book of Common Prayer (New York: Church Hymnal Corp., 1979), p. 855.Google Scholar

18. For further discussion, see Podmore, ‘The Baptismal Revolution’. See also Fredrica Harris Thompsett, ‘Coming to our Sacramental Senses: Full Baptismal Participation and Full Inclusion of the People of God’, in ‘We Will, with God's Help’: Perspectives on Baptism, Sexuality and the Anglican Communion (The Chicago Consultation, 2009), pp. 5–9 (8); available at: http://www.chicagoconsultation.org/site/1/docs/We_Will_With_God_s_Help.pdf (accessed 14 June 2011).

19. The Anglican Communion Covenant Design Group, ‘Commentary on the St. Andrew's Draft for an Anglican Covenant’, pp. 1–2; available at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/docs/the_commentary_2008.pdf (accessed 14 June 2011).

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