‘Inclusive language’liturgies

The following liturgy, approved for experimental use in The Episcopal Church, is one in a line of development of feminist or ‘inclusive language’ liturgies. It might seem at first sight that, by comparison with some others, this liturgy is moderate and conservative.

It retains the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in its original form and uses a traditional form for the Lords Prayer. Reflection, however, will reveal the subtlety of these retentions. They are not retained in a liturgy of this type (which is otherwise radical in its elimination of male terminology to refer to God the Father) in order to accommodate the sensibilities of’traditionalists’, nor out of any sense of the authority of the texts in question. Rather they are included in order to relativize them.

A eucharistic community using such a text normatively would quickly come to see the ‘old’ texts as concessions to a previous, unenlightened dispensation. Because the language of the main body of the text contradicted and superseded the language of these historical citations, two things would result. First, the language of the historical texts and those of the modern prayers would be seen as equivalent and of equal value. Second, the historical texts would be robbed of their authority: they would be a way of expressing the truth and not the way.

The Episcopal Church has an established history of changing doctrine by liturgical change. The most significant example is the introduction of the Baptismal Covenant in the Prayer Book of 1979 and the appeal which has subsequently been made to it as a basis for the new ecclesiology of’inclusivity’. In some quarters that covenant is now, paradoxically, being used to justify the indiscriminate admission of unbaptized people to Holy Communion.

Were liturgies such as the one reproduced here to become normative or even alternative, in the wider Church, divisions between TEC and the rest of the Communion would be widened further.

Eucharist using female nouns and pronouns


A hymn, psalm, or anthem maybe sung.

The people standing, the celebrant says
Blessed be the Lady who births, redeems and sanctifies us.
And blessed be all of her creation forever. Amen

Nurturing Mother, our hearts are open to you.
You know our yearnings and our deepest fears. Purify our hearts with your burning love,
that we may learn to love you more and more. Amen.

Loving Lady, have mercy.
Mother Jesus, have mercy.
Loving Lady, have mercy.

THE COLLECT (see Proper 5, p. 229, BCP)

Mother of all mercies,
all good things proceed from you.
Inspire us to think right thoughts
and empower us to act on them;
through your beautiful Son, Jesus Christ,
who with you and the Holy Spirit perpetually watches over us. Amen.


After each lesson, the Reader may say
The Holy Word. Blessed be.

Before the Gospel the Deacon or Priest says
The Holy Gospel according to… We give you glory.

After the Gospel the Reader says
The Good News of our redeemer, Jesus Christ.
We give you praise.


On Sundays and other Major Feasts there follows, all standing THE NICENE CREED (p. 358, BCP)

At other services it may be omitted or said in its place THE APOSTLES’ CREED (p. 96, BCP)

Mother, we pray for your Holy Catholic Church;
That we all may be one.
Grant that every member of the Church may be your handmaiden;

That your name may be glorified by all creation.
We pray for all bishops, priests and deacons;
That they may faithfully conserve your bounty.
We pray for all who govern and hold positions of power in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth. Give us grace to do your will in all we undertake; That our hearts may find favor in your sight.
Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble;
That they may be delivered from their distress.
Give to the departed eternal rest;
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy;
May we also come to share in your paradise.
Let us pray for our own needs and those of others.

Intercessions may be offered.
The concluding collect is read by the Celebrant, (p. 394, #4)
Holy Mother God,
to whom our needs are known before we ask;
help us to ask only what accords with your will;
and those good things which we dare not
or in our blindness cannot ask,
grant us for the sake of your beautiful Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us confess the ways
we have separated ourselves from our Divine Mother,
from our own best selves and our neighbors.

Most merciful Lady,
we confess that we have separated ourselves from you
in thought, word and deed,
by what we have done and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves;
we have not taken care of the life you have given us.
We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent.
Have mercy on us and forgive us;
that as we attempt to turn around
and go forward in a new direction
we may delight in your desires
and walk in your ways,
and bring honor to your Name. Amen.


Peace be with you. And also with you.


THE GREAT THANKSGIVING (Eucharistic Prayer D, p. 372, BCP)

May the Holy Mother be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.We lift them to our Lady.
Let us give thanks to Her. It is right to give both thanks and praise.
It is truly right, Mother, to give you thanks;
for you alone are the I AM, living and true,
dwelling in light inaccessible from before time and forever.
Fountain of life and source of all goodness,
you made all things and fill them with your blessing;
you created them to rejoice in the splendor of your radiance.
Countless throngs of angels stand before you to give you glory
night and day; and beholding the radiance of your presence,
they offer you unceasing praise.
Joining with them and giving voice
to every creature under heaven,
we acclaim you, and honor your Name as we sing (say)
Holy, holy, holy One, Source of light and love,
heaven and earth are full of your beauty.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is she who comes in the name of Love.
Hosanna in the highest.

We acclaim you, holy Lady, radiant with power. All of creation reveals your wisdom and love. You formed us in your own image, giving the whole world into our care, so that we might nurture and serve one another and your creation. When our disobedience took us far from you, you did not abandon us to the power of death. In your mercy you came to our help, so that in seeking you we might find you. Again and again you called us into relationship with you, and through the prophets you taught us to hope for salvation.

Mother, you loved the world so much that you sent your only Son to be our Savior. Incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, he lived as one of us, yet without sin. To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation; to prisoners, freedom; to the sorrowful, joy. In order to stay in right relationship with you, he gave himself up to death; and, rising from the grave, he destroyed death that we might no longer fear it, and made your whole creation new.

And, that we might live no longer for ourselves, he sent the Holy Spirit, his own first gift, to complete the work he began and to bring to fulfillment the sanctification of all.

When the hour had come for him to be delivered up, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end; at supper with them he took the bread, and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat: This is my Body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.’

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, ‘Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.’

Mother, we now celebrate this memorial of your redemption. Recalling Christ’s death and his descent among the dead, proclaiming his resurrection and ascension to your waiting arms, longing for his coming in glory; and offering to you, from the gifts you have given us, this bread and this cup, we praise you and we bless you.

We praise you, we bless you, we give thanks to you,
and we pray to you, our Lady.

Our Mother, we pray that in your goodness and mercy your Holy Spirit may descend upon us, and upon these gifts, sanctifying them and showing them to be holy gifts for your holy people, the bread of life and the cup of salvation, the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Grant that all who share this bread and cup may become one body and one spirit, a living offering in Christ, to the praise of your name.

Remember, precious Lady, your one holy catholic and apostolic Church, redeemed by the blood of your Christ. Reveal its unity, guard its faith, and preserve it in peace.

And grant that we may find our inheritance with all the saints who have found favor with you in ages past. We praise you in union with them and give you glory through your Son Jesus Christ.

Through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, all honor and glory are yours, nurturing Mother, our source of life, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

And now as the one who redeemed us taught us,
we are bold to say,

Our Father, who art in heaven…


[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover has redeemed us. [Alleluia.]
Death has no more dominion over us.
The gifts of our Lady for her people.

The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately deliver it to the people. The bread and Cup are given to the communicants with these words.

The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven. [Amen.]
The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation. [Amen.]

Let us pray.

Most bountiful Lady,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son;
and for assuring us that we, too,
are cherished and loved as your children.
Enfold us in your arms and strengthen us with your love,
that we might be empowered
to do the work and service you have given us to do.
To you, to your Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Let us go forth empowered by the Love of our Lady.
Blessed be.


Sydney lay presidency

Sydney Synod has overwhelmingly restated its support for lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper. More significantly – in what supporters said is ‘a great outcome’ for women deacons – the motion also ‘accepts’ the argument that there is no longer any legal impediment to deacons officiating at Holy Communion, given the wording of The Ordination Service for Deacons, Canon 1985 and the repeal of the 1662 Act of Uniformity by a recent General Synod Canon.

However the motion itself does nothing to change the legal situation. ‘We don’t make law or change law in a motion,’ said the Bishop of North Sydney, Glenn Davies, in moving the motion ‘we merely express our view’ Bishop Davies said he believes there is ‘nothing the Archbishop can do to prevent a deacon administering the Lord’s Supper.’ But added that via the motion Synod cannot approve lay people presiding at Holy Communion at Sunday services in Sydney Diocese. ‘It would require a bishop’s licence,’ Bishop Davies explained. ‘The Archbishop will not license a lay person at this time.’

Win for women deacons

Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, Narrelle Jarrett, seconded the motion saying she wanted Synod to understand the way the ministry of deacons – male and female – is currently restrained. Women can be deacons in Sydney diocese but not priests. Archdeacon Jarrett said the current situation ‘seriously diminishes the ministry of women,’ explaining the right to administer the Lord’s Supper ‘is forbidden them for entirely unbibli-cal reasons.’ ‘Why can’t women deacons

administer the Lord’s Supper in a girls’ school or a women’s prison? Do we really think that only a male priest can administer this Sacrament?’

Archdeacon Jarrett also said the current situation caused problems in multi-site parishes, when congregations are led by deacons. A number of new church plants in Sydney diocese, including some that are extra-parochial, are led by male deacons. The current policy makes it difficult for these churches regularly to provide the Lord’s Supper to members.

Amendments lost

A string of amendments were suggested. All were overwhelmingly defeated. The Revd Andrew Katay from Ashfield sought merely to ‘receive’ the report on the legal advice. He said ‘it’s not honourable’ to pursue a change by just doing ‘a clever thing with words’.

Judge Chris Armitage from Killara sought to remove the word ‘lay’ from the motion. He said any move to approve lay administration would breach Section 71 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia, and he guaranteed it would end up in the secular courts.

The Revd Dr Tim Foster from Leich-hardt sought to delete clause (c): ‘affirms that the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters’. ‘It pretends to be innocuous but opens a Pandora’s box,’ he said.

Bishop Peter Tasker supported Dr Foster’s amendment saying that he was concerned the motion would impact Sydney’s relationship with GAFCON bishops. ‘I am not arguing that we ask GAFCON bishops for permission,’ he said. ‘I personally made a commitment… that we would seek to put on paper our reasons for moving in this direction.

They simply ask to give them space to read and understand our position before we act.’ A key part of the motion includes sending a book published by the Anglican Church League in order to explain Sydney Diocese’s theological viewpoint to GAFCON bishops.

The Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, spoke against each amendment in turn and in support of the original motion. The motion, he said ‘doesn’t say what we are going to do…just what we believe.’ More significantly he explained the rationale for Sydney’s ongoing plan to broaden the diaconate. ‘We want to turn the diaconate into a real diaconate… We don’t want to specialize the presbyters in administering the Lord’s Supper.. .but we want them to specialize in their incumbency’

In his concluding speech, Bishop Davies agreed. ‘It’s much better to make the diaconate a real diaconate…to allow women to have that fullness of ministry of Word and Sacrament.. That would be a great outcome.’

‘We must remember that diaconal presidency occurred in Kenya for years and no one blinked an eye – I confirmed this with Archbishop Gitari [of Kenya].’

The motion

7.2 Lay and diaconal administration

Synod –

(a) accepts the report concerning legal barriers to lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper which was submitted to the 3rd session of the 47th Synod, and

(b) affirms again its conviction that lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture, and

(c) affirms that the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters, and reguests the Diocesan Secretary to send a copy of The Lord’s Supper in Human Hands to all bishops who attended the GAFCON.