Bishop Eric Menees
We continue our exploration of the “Jerusalem Declaration” (the full text of which can be found here: https://www.gafcon.org/resources/the-complete-jerusalem-statement). This week we look at point six – The Book of Common Prayer.
We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.
When we baptize someone, they are made a Christian in the Anglican Tradition. What is the “Anglican Tradition?” More than anything else, it is summed up in the Book of Common Prayer, and we have Archbishop Cranmer to thank for that. What a stroke of brilliance! When the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Cranmer knew that the nascent church - part of the Reformation - would need a common organizing principle that would set a biblical and theological standard, and establish a liturgical custom; an organizing principle that would bring the church back to the heart of the faith handed down from Jesus to the Apostles.
While Archbishop Cranmer wasn’t the author of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, he was instrumental in the formation of the first prayer book: the 1542 Book of Common Prayer. It took time for the people of the church to adjust to worship in English and for the major portions of the Reformation to play out. Finally, in 1662 they developed what became and continues to be the standard for Anglicans worldwide.
It is impossible to state the importance of the Prayer Book. As a result of the combination of the Reformation and the BCP, England became a literate country. Once men and women began to read - using the prayer book and scriptures for themselves - lives were changed and enhanced, communities were formed, and the “average” man and woman became ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This continues to be true today. With the exception of a few provinces (TEC & Church of Canada), the vast majority of Anglicans around the world continue to uphold the theology set forth in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. How wonderful that you can go to an Anglican church in the Anglican Church in North America, Chile, Burundi, or Singapore and find worship grounded in the scriptures, formed in the 1662 BCP, and lived in the lives of faithful Anglicans the world over.
I look forward to this coming year and the production of our new 2019 Book of Common Prayer. Across the diocese we are already using the majority of the services, but in 2019 we will have a finished product that will be mass produced and accessible to any and all who would like to use it. This new prayer book, grounded in the 1662 BCP, will aid in unifying the Province and providing a wonderful tool for ministry.
I pray you all a very blessed week.