Committee 12: Liturgy II (Calendar resolutions)

Two days ago, “And also with blue” offered commentary on all the non-calendar resolutions assigned to the prayer book, liturgy, and music committee. Today we’re going to – this should not be a surprise – look at the calendar resolutions.

Allow me to preface this commentary by saying that starting in about 2006, the Episcopal Church’s calendar of commemorations descended into utter chaos. The SCLM offered Holy Women, Holy Men as a replacement for Lesser Feasts & Fasts in 2009 and again in 2012. Other than the great name, that book was a disaster. Sure, it expanded demographic diversity somewhat, but it also included non-Christians and blurred our idea of who should be commemorated and why. Then the SCLM tried to get us on board with A Great Cloud of Witnesses, which General Convention declined to authorize, choosing to “make it available” instead. So up until 2018, our official calendar was still Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2009, though a book of that title was never printed, since it was just LFF 2006 with a couple of edits made in 2009. Got it?

Then in 2018, the SCLM responded to what they’d been asked to do in 2015 by coming up with a balanced calendar of commemorations, &c., &c. They did what the General Convention said, and their work was mangled in the legislative process, but at least we approved Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018 for trial use, which was basically everything in LFF 2009 + all the new saints, because we like to add people, and it hurts our feelings to take people off the calendar. Anyway, the situation was better!

I’m simplifying by the way, because we don’t have all day here, and there’s only so much I can type. Someday, someone (I’m looking at you, Liza Anderson) needs to write a tell-all book. But for now, we get to 2022 with a much better situation in place. And there’s a good plan for the future. Read on to see what the plan is and to hear what I think of various proposals to modify the calendar at this convention.

 

A007 Authorize Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

This resolution authorizes Lesser Feasts & Fasts as we approved it in 2018 plus all of the edits happening at this convention. We’ll have a solid calendar with the saints you know and love from back in the day (2006 and before) plus most of the ones that have been added in 2009-2018. We’re also getting a couple of new ones this time around, I believe.

There’s just one minor thing to fix. The resolution doesn’t clarify the title of this to-be-approved volume. My hope is that it will be Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2021 (or 2022) and not 2018 as some places seem to suggest. Since there’s already a LFF 2018 out there in the world, it would be confusing to have another.

In any case, I can’t wait to buy this. I hope Church Publishing prints it as a high-quality hardback like LFF 2006 and prior editions were printed. And of course, this book will be freely available as a PDF for download not too long after Convention. We’re entering a new era of sanctoral calendar awesomeness, friends. Praise be.

 

A008 Additional Calendar Commemorations. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

This resolution adds for trial use Simeon Bachos the Ethiopian Eunuch (August 27), Episcopal Deaconesses (September 22), and Frederick Howden, Jr (December 11). You can read the biographies of these witnesses and see the proposed propers in the supporting materials for the resolution.

I personally would prefer not to use names supplied by tradition for Biblical saints, but I suppose it’s fine. Do we really think the eunuch was called Simeon? But it’s a pretty ancient custom, so fine. These will be fitting commemorations.

 

A009 Revision of Existing Calendar Commemorations. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

Sometimes we get new historical information or develop new insights and it makes sense to update the biographies in LFF. This resolution updates biographies for Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818; Maryam of Qidun, Monastic, 4th century; and The Martyrs of Japan, 1597.

 

A010 Lesser Feasts and Fasts Revision Principles. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

I said earlier that Holy Women, Holy Men was a disaster, and that might have been a bit harsh. It did, ironically, provide the occasion for updating the principles we use for deciding who to remember in our calendar of commemorations. The criteria are meant to give us a broader perspective on the life and witness of the saints, to get us out of merely emotional consideration. The criteria proposed here are updated based on what was in HWHM 2009. I encourage you to read the criteria in the resolution which are helpful, concise, and clear. If passed, these critera will be used in the future and will be published in LFF 2021/2022.

 

A011 Develop Local Commemorations. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

Commemorations are meant to begin in local communities and then spread to others, eventually leading to churchwide celebration. We shouldn’t generally be deciding on commemorations at a churchwide committee meeting and foisting them on churches. It should be from the grassroots going up.

This resolution provides helpful guidelines for thinking about and crafting local commemorations. Read the resolution to see what these guidelines are about.

 

A012 Commons for Local Calendar Commemorations. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

For local commemorations, folks are encouraged to use common propers (of a monastic, of a martyr, and so on) rather than developing new ones all the time. To expand what’s already offered in the Book of Common Prayer, the SCLM provided additional commons for saints. You can find these in A Great Cloud of Witnesses. If passed, this resolution authorizes those additional commons and will cause them to be printed in LFF. These resources will help local communities develop and keep their own local commemorations.

 

A013 A Plan for Clarifying the Calendar of The Episcopal Church. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

This resolution sets a long-term plan for our calendar, especially as we continue to move toward eventual prayer book revision. If passed, we’re not changing much today, but rather setting a course for a decade or more ahead. The plan is (basically) to put apostolic-era saints in the prayer book calendar and to put all the post-apostolic saints in Lesser Feasts & Fasts. We would also, if approved, expand our list of apostolic-era saints somewhat to include more women (Lydia, “Photini”) and others.

One of the side benefits of this plan is that it will offer some stability in prayer book printing. At the moment if you are a publisher, every time you print prayer books, you have to sort out the current calendar and get it right in the front of the book. It’s not always easy! Under this plan, the list of apostolic saints would be quite stable. Ongoing change would happen in the supplemental volume, LFF.

This puts us on a good long-term road.

 

A014 Additions to the Book of Common Prayer Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

This resolution moves a number of apostolic saints into our prayer book calendar (in line with the plan outlined in A013). All of these saints are already included in LFF 2006 or LFF 2018.

The list is Timothy, Titus and Silas, companions of Saint Paul; Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, witnesses of the faith; The Woman of Samaria, traditionally known as Photini; Priscilla and Aquila, co-workers of Paul; Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, of Bethany; Joseph of Arimathea; Joanna, Mary, and Salome, Myrrh-Bearing Women.

Makes good sense to keep the apostolic saints together in the prayer book calendar, even if we haven’t quite got the full separation envisioned by A013 yet.

 

C003 Withdrawl of the name the Rev. William Porcher DuBose from the Lesser Feasts and Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

William Porcher DuBose was an officer in the Confederate Army, and his family owned 204 enslaved persons. As the resolution’s explanation notes, “In all of his scholarly writings and teaching, there is never a mention that Rev. Dubose [sic] renounced slavery or his participation as a traitor against the United States by serving in the Confederate Army.” We should not expect everyone from the past to conform to our moral standards of the present, but neither should we elevate people as exemplary witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when those people had the opportunity to reject grave evil which was known in their own time and failed to do so. This resolution removes DuBose from our calendar of commemorations.

 

C004 Inclusion of June 19th, “Juneteenth” in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar in Recognition of the End of Slavery in the United States. Full text. Liklely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

For those who may not know, Juneteenth is now a US federal holiday. More than that, it is a celebration of the emancipation of enslaved persons in Texas in 1865. While rooted in a specific historic event, it has become for many a broader celebration of freedom and African-American culture. As long as we are celebrating secular holidays such as Independence Day (USA), it makes perfect sense to celebrate Juneteenth. I can’t think of a more Christian ideal to celebrate than deliverance from captivity.

This resolution contains draft propers, a pair of collects, and a biography. The SCLM will need time to check these propers (are they used elsewhere?), to review and edit the biography, and perhaps to improve the collects. We should refer this resolution to the SCLM, and then we can add Juneteenth to our calendar in 2024 if we desire then.

Meanwhile, I hope local communities will celebrate Juneteenth using the available propers for various occasions in our prayer book.

 

C006 Commemoration of Fr. Paul Wattson. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

Fr. Paul Wattson was an Episcopal priest who was later received into the Roman Catholic church. Among other notable acts, he helped to inaugurate the week of Christian unity. I don’t have a particularly strong opinion about whether or not we should add Wattson to our churchwide calendar of commemorations. The SCLM can weigh the merits of his commemoration and, if he is to be commemorated, they can finalize the biography, collects, and propers.

 

C007 Designate March 10 as the Date to Commemorate Harriet Ross Tubman. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

In our current calendar, Harriet Ross Tubman, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, and Sojourner Truth are commemorated together on July 20. This resolution suggests moving Tubman to her own commemoration on March 10. I encourage us to refer this to the SCLM, so they can make a decision based on the picture of our whole calendar. With over 270 days taken up with commemorations currently, I am hesitant to separate out some of the consolidated commemorations we now keep. But perhaps this is a good idea.

Personal note: I’m a huge Harriet Tubman fan. She won the Golden Halo in Lent Madness 2020.

 

C010 Amending Biographical Information for the Feast of Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

This resolution corrects errors and omissions in the biographical entry for the commemoration of Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey. If the legislative committee can verify that these edits are correct (and I have no reason to doubt that), then they can approve these changes immediately. If for some reason this requires further research, this can be referred to the SCLM or, better yet, referred to the editors of the final version of Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2021 as they perfect the volume.

 

C019 Petition to the 80th General Convention to add John R. Lewis to the Episcopal Church calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

This resolution proposes a commemoration for John Lewis, politician and civil rights activist. He died in July 2020. The SCLM can weigh the merits of commemoration in our calendar, particularly as his death was so recent. If it is desirable to commemorate Lewis now, the SCLM can come back to  General Convention in 2024 with a biography, propers, and collects. Lewis had a huge impact, and I will remember him always for his encouragement to get into “good trouble.”

 

C020 Petition to the 80th General Convention to add Howard W. Thurman to the Episcopal Church calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

As Wikipedia notes, Howard Thurman was an “author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.” Thurman’s continued influence on theology is considerable. The SCLM can weigh the merits of commemoration in our calendar. If it is desirable to commemorate Thurman, the SCLM can come back to  General Convention in 2024 with a biography, propers, and collects.

 

C022 Enter Barbara Clementine Harris into the Church Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

True story.  In about 1998, I was the organist at an Episcopal parish in Massachusetts. We had a new elevator that Bishop Harris came to dedicate. Needing a vessel for holy water, we grabbed a pottery bowl out of my office. That day, I brought the bowl home from church and said, “We need to keep this, because someday it will be a second-class relic of St. Barbara Harris.”

I can’t wait to add Bishop Harris to the calendar. Perhaps this is an occasion to ignore our usual rule about a 50-year waiting period, or maybe we should wait a while longer. In any case, we can’t add Bishop Harris until the SCLM has written a biography, chosen propers, and provided collects. They can come back to the next Convention in two years if they recommend her inclusion in the calendar now, and we can add her then. Blessed Barbara, pray for us!

 

C023 On Commemorating the Rt Rev Barbara Harris. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C024 On Commemorating the Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C026 Resolution to Enter Barbara Clementine Harris, Bishop, to the Calendar of the Church Year. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C029 A Resolution to Include the name Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C032 Designating the Third or Fourth Sunday in Advent as a Day to Offer God Thanks for the Abolition of Slavery and to Ask God’s Help in Assuring Always that Black Lives Matter. Full text. Likely vote: NO.

I am highly sympathetic to the aims of this resolution, which is to encourage our church to give thanks for the abolition of slavery and to raise the church’s voice in support of the truth that Black Lives Matter by setting aside either the Third Sunday of Advent or Fourth Sunday of Advent for this occasion. I have two concerns about this particular resolution, but I also have a proposed alternative.

First, I am always worried about creating themed Sundays, which can undercut the yearlong proclamation of the Paschal Mystery and of Jesus’ ministry as each Sunday we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection. Particularly when Advent is so short, I hate to see one of the Sundays devoted to another theme; Advent, after all, does anticipate the coming kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. For such an important occasion as the subjects this resolution asks us to support,  I also worry the celebration would be overtaken by anticipation of Christmas, which seems to happen about mid-way through Advent onward in many churches.

Second, this resolution commemorates the passage of the thirteenth amendment, which did end enslavement for many people. But we passed a resolution at the last General Convention (2018-D013) noting how the thirteenth amendment contains “loophole language” allowing continued enslavement of incarcerated persons. Given the problems of mass incarceration in the USA, I’m not sure I’d be super enthusiastic about celebrating the thirteenth amendment unless we’re also looking at ways to emancipate those who continue to be enslaved.

I think we can honor the intent and spirit of this resolution and avoid the complications I raised by celebrating Juneteenth (see C004, above).  My personal preference would be to go in that direction, but if it’s possible I’ve missed an important angle here. If so, please leave a comment.

 

C037 Inclusion of Bishop Barbara Harris to the Calendar of the Church. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C038 Inclusion of Juneteenth. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C004.

See commentary on C004.

 

C043 to Include the Name Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C045 Resolution regarding Commemorating Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Church Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C049 Establishing Annual Commemoration for Father Fred Yerkes, Priest and Missionary, January 30. Full text.

The resolution says, “Father Fred Yerkes faithfully served innumerable small churches with unflagging zeal for fifty years; his Godly example reminds us of the worth of small churches.” The SCLM can weigh whether it makes sense to add him to our churchwide calendar of commemorations, and, if so, they can write a biography, identify propers, and provide collects for consideration in 2024.

A note: this resolution wants to add him to “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” which was essentially deprecrated in 2018. A word to resolution-writers: if you want someone to be commemorated, you want to “add ____ to the calendar of commemorations.” Let the legislative committee parse as needed. Do not name volumen, because that always leads to chaos and confusion.

Final note: this resolution wants to commemorate Fr. Yerkes on January 30. If we are going to add any commemoration on January 30, it should be St. Charles, King and Martyr, who was martyred on January 30, 1649.

 

C050 A Resolution to Include the Name Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C051 Include the name Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C052 Inclusion Of June 19th, “Juneteenth” In The Church’s Liturgical Calendar In Recognition Of The End Of Slavery In The United States. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C004.

See commentary on C004.

 

C053 Withdrawl Of The Name Th Rev. William Porcher Dubose From The Lesser Feats And Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

See commentary on C003.

 

C055 A Resolution to Include the name Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C057 A Resolution Regarding Inclusion of Juneteenth in Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C004.

See commentary on C004.

 

C061 Commemorating Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C066 Commemoration of the Right Rev. Barbara Harris. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C067 Add Barbara Clementine Harris To Church Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

C069 Including Bp. Barbara Clementine Harris on the Calendar of the Church Year. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

D010 Resolution Regarding Inclusion of a hymn in Honor of Dr. Artemisia Bowden. Full text.

Among other significant acts, Artemisia Bowden founded St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, TX. She was added to the calendar in A Great Cloud of Witnesses. For whatever reason, she was not included in the calendar for Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018. This resolution proposes adding a hymn about Bowden to the official church hymnal, Lift Every Voice and Sing II. Of course, the problem is that adding a hymn to an extant hymnal is difficult, if not impossible. The page layout will have been set up for the hymns included. Adding a hymn to the middle of the hymnal as this resolution contemplates would require renumbering the hymns. And then there’s the practical matter of whether or not more books will be printed and what to do with existing hymnals. At the very least, Church Publishing would need to be consulted. So I just can’t see how this would work.

My suggestion is that some organization put this hymn on their website and encourage its use. I would also urge those who believe Bowden may be a fitting addition to our calendar to come back to General Convention in 2024 with a proposal to add her to the calendar.

 

D011 Resolution to direct the removal of the name of The Rev. William Porcher DuBose from the Lesser Feasts and Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES.

See commentary on C003.

 

D012 Resolution to Include the name Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C022.

See commentary on C022.

 

D017 A Resolution Regarding Inclusion of Juneteenth in Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM. See C004.

See commentary on C004.

 

D025 Lili’uokalani, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Hawaiian Islands. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

This resolution seeks the addition of a commemoration for “Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawai’i, whose exemplary Christian life provides a model of a strong indigenous woman for the entire Episcopal Church by her nonviolent response to imperialism and oppression, and an unfailing commitment to justice and reconciliation.”

I think this will be an excellent commemoration. The SCLM will need time to perfect the biography, check the propers, and offer a Rite I collect. I hope we can add this commemoration in 2024.

 

D028 Addition of Laurence Whipp to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

Laurence (or Lawrence, as his name is spelled in the resolution) was the organist at the American cathedral in Paris at the time of World War II. His story is remarkable as the explanation makes clear. The SCLM can sort out if he should be included in our calendar. If so, they can write a biography, choose propers, and provide the collects.

 

D065 Adding Matthew Shepard to the Sanctoral Calendar. Full text. Likely vote: YES, refer to the SCLM.

Matthew Shephard was murdered in an unusually cruel manner, and his death became internationally infamous as a vile hate crime. Today Shepard’s remains are interred at the Washington National Cathedral; he was an Episcopalian who had been an acolyte. The SCLM can ponder this commemoration. If they choose to recommend it, they will need to write an official biography, choose propers, and offer collects.

3 Responses

  1. Scott — I’m a bit troubled with the apparent acceptance of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018. It really needs a lot of work, and maybe it is getting/will get it. (1) A number of traditional and popular saints that have been in LFF and many Anglican BCPs for many years apparently have been dumped. (Ask me and I’ll name them!) It looks like the Corrected Proposed Calendar deals with some of these. (2) A lot of editorial repairs need to be done — some probably just typos, others actual content mistakes. I wrote to the SCLM about this a few weeks back, but obviously this issue has moved on. Frankly, I think the General Convention should simply say, “Basically good stuff, but it still needs work; bring it back in 2024.” Footnote: dropping DuBose: Absolutely. Adding Harris: Absolutely. Adding Charles the Martyr: Nope.

  2. Rev. Antonio Regist says:

    Dr. Artemisia Bowden was recognized by The Episcopal Church at the 78th General
    Convention in 2015 as a Holy Woman and is now included in the Church’s Calendar of
    Commemorations on August 18.

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