Our church has canons pertaining to the ordering of worship and to the maintenance of standards of ministry by its licensed officers. Infringement of those canons makes licensed ministers liable for discipline, the consequences of which can be quite serious if one were to lose one's position as a result.
Of special relevance to the question of what services of worship clergy may, must or may not lead are the following sections in our regulation on ministry standards (Title D). Bear with me. Especially if you want to avoid the tribunal!
Title D Canon 1 Section A Subsection 4 (hereafter such references will be styled 'D.1.A.4') says this:
"LITURGY:Then D.1.A.11.4 reinforces the point:
It is the responsibility of Ordained Ministers to lead God’s people in praise and thanksgiving to God, to ensure reverent, regular and carefully prepared divine service using the forms authorised by this Church."
"11.4 Use duly authorised forms of public worship;"If things are not clear by now, then Title D spells out offences for which one may be disciplined. Most clergy I know manage successfully to avoid offences such as adultery, drug-taking and abusing our spouses and children. It is not clear to me however that we successfully manage to avoid tripping up here at D.1.C2.3.4:
"3.4 Refusal or neglect by an Ordained Minister to use either A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa or The Book of Common Prayer 1662 (as modified by the General Synod / te Hīnota Whānui under authority of the Constitution / te Pouhere) or any other services as are duly authorised by the Canons of this Church in the public services of this Church or to administer the sacraments in such order and form as are set forth in the said Books or other authorised services; or to use on any occasion in public Ministry except so far as shall be otherwise ordered by lawful authority the orders and forms of common prayer or such rites and ceremonies as are mentioned and set forth in the said Books or in other authorised services and therein directed to be used for such purpose on such occasion."
All of this liturgical discipline is set in train by the declarations we make when we receive our licences, the wording for which re liturgy is specified as:
"In public prayer and administration of the sacraments I will use only the forms of service which are authorised or allowed by lawful authority." (from Title A Canon 2).That is, licensed clergypersons vow that they will use certain forms of service and not use other forms.* Given that these forms include two accessible prayer books (BCP, NZPB), various other services accessible from our church's website, and that within these services considerable flexibility is permitted, it would be quite a legal feat for anyone to successfully complain about a clergyperson failing to fulfil his or her vow in respect of liturgy to the point where a tribunal found against the clergyperson. Nevertheless some of us would prefer not to run the risk of a successful complaint, so seek to be liturgically law-abiding; and all of us want to honour and respect our bishops as a matter of personal integrity and our vows of canonical obedience are to them personally as our ecclesial superiors, as much as to General Synod as a somewhat impersonal corporate body.
But the observation above re two prayer books, many other forms of worship, and quite a lot of flexibility implies that we have allowed ourselves, via General Synod, to grow our collection of authorised forms of worship (to say nothing of forms which have been received, reported and even approved (should this be something different to "authorised") to a point where far from it being helpful to have lots of material available to us it is now unhelpful.
If I want to plan and perform liturgy faithfully, in accordance with the discipline of the church and in fulfilment of my vows, it is messing with my head to offer as many options as we currently have (and more are in the GS pipeline).
Further, if part of the point of Anglican liturgical life is that we pray in common as the continuing people of the Book of Common Prayer, then there is nothing 'common' about the worship of the church of a thousand options.
My final grizzle (for today). 'Common worship' in Anglican terms is the worship we have agreed across our diversity is common to us, accessible to both evangelical, broad and anglo-catholic contexts of our life. Our current processes of developing our liturgical life are geared to the commonality we share across three tikanga. That is good. But when it leads to 'authorised forms of worship', let alone material which is incorporated into our formularies (that is, the deepest level of embedding our written worship as expressing our doctrine), I think we need a different process to ensure that the breadth of Anglican theology is written into our liturgies. In my understanding we do not have that at this time.
General Synod: you mean well with all you set out to do liturgically, but I think you have agreed to too many things through the past couple of decades and are now messing with our liturgical heads.
My next post will offer the Czar's recipe for de-messification of the situation.
*What are those forms?
Recently a convenient listing was posted on our church's website (here) but also it can now be obtained @Liturgy (here or here). But Bosco Peters' has pointed out that this list for our guidance omits all reference to the Book of Common Prayer which is, as the citation above makes clear, an authorised prayer book (albeit with a few modifications) of our church. Further, this list has a major flaw when it gathers up into one section resources which have been "received by/approved by/reported to the General Synod". Our discipline is about authorised services and allowed by lawful authority services, not services which have been received or reported, and maybe not even "approved" services, though I have not time or energy right now to pursue the question whether "approved" in this context is a synonym for "authorised" or "allowed by lawful authority".