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The First Step to Unity: A New Prayer Book

We noted last year that the great challenge of Orthodox Anglicans in North America was to find a way to coalesce into some kind of organic unity, which is necessary if we are serious about establishing an additional province in the Anglican Communion.

This is trickier than it looks.  Beyond the obvious problems of women’s ordination and the Anglo-Catholic/Evangelical divide, once organisations and bureaucracies are set up, getting people to come together–with the concomitant redundancies and unemployment–is difficult.  Too many purple shirts!

One thing that the various groups, such as CANA, AMiA, and the like, could be working on is a new prayer book for themselves.  We can hear the sigh of disgust from here:  "Another new prayer book…"  And, given our opinion of the 1979 production, we are sympathetic to this idea.  But there are several things that could be accomplished with a new prayer book.

  1. It would eliminate dependency upon TEC for prayer books, especially the 1979 one.  This would enhance the identity of orthodox Anglicans in North America (or "enhance denominational distinctives," as they say in some places.)
  2. It would enable the publication and use of a prayer book that incorporates the classic, Cramnerian core that it needs to be truly Anglican.  The last prayer book to do this was Canada’s in 1962.
  3. It would enable the inclusion of alternate rites–which exiles from TEC have gotten used to in the last thirty years–while excising unorthodox elements, such as the infamous Baptismal Covenant (the "Contract on Episcopalians.")
  4. It would be a real instrument of unity amongst the various orthodox groups in North America, both those who are in communion with Canterbury and those which aren’t.

Orthodox Anglicans are going to need some real, practical initiatives to further advance what they have already won on this continent.  There are enough theological brains in their midst to get the job done.  What it’s going to take is some leadership to make it happen.  But the rewards are worth the effort, both in writing the book and in getting through the ecclesiastical politics in the process.


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