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Local pastor struggles with prayer book revision

• Jul 17, 2018 at 5:00 PM

The Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer has been busy writing this summer. He’s been filling his blog with post after post about what’s going on in the Episcopal Church.

One of the latest is “Trying to Hear the Spirit in (Book of Common Prayer) Revision.”

“It's hard. Dammit is it hard,” he starts off. “I became an Episcopalian over a decade ago initially because of one key theological shift: the understanding that I needed to submit to something larger than myself and my reading of the Bible.

“The Bible itself is a product of the church. Jesus told us that there were more things to teach us and the Spirit would lead us. I chose the Episcopal Church because it was the catholic tradition that seemed most willing to still listen. It didn't want to cut the development of the church off at any point in history. Always catholic. Always reforming.”

Note that Cramer, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, uses “catholic” with the lower-case “c,” as in “a person who belongs to the universal Christian church,” according to Merriam-Webster.

“And I still believe in it,” he continued. “I still believe the Holy Spirit moves through the institution of the church. I still believe that the Spirit guides call processes, and the election of bishops, and the discernment of vestries on budgets and ministry. And I believe the Holy Spirit moves through General Convention.”

In this post, Cramer writes about the General Convention of the Episcopal Church (July 5-13 in Austin, Texas) beginning the discussion about revising its Book of Common Prayer.

“I sat though around 45 minutes or so of open testimony on the subject of revision itself along with the subject of expansive language,” he wrote. “I heard person after person get up and talk about their experience with our prayer book. I heard two trans priests talk about how painful it is to have ‘he’ used in such an exclusive way, how it makes it harder for them to get others come who don't believe God is a ‘he.’

“That's not my experience, I'll be honest. And I know there are LGBTQ Christians out there — many of whom are my friends! — who don't have that experience at all but who find rest and comfort in the more traditional language of the BCP,” Cramer noted. “But I listened. And my heart wrenched.”

“Is saying ‘it is right to give Him thanks and praise’ instead of ‘it is right to give our thanks and praise’ really worth that pain? Is it?”

Read the complete post and more on the convention, its proceedings and the many committee reports leading up to it on Cramer’s blog: “Care with the Cure of Souls.”

The opinions expressed by bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

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