Thinking allowed

Introducing Thinking Liturgy

A decade or so ago we began Thinking Anglicans with the express intention of proclaiming

a tolerant, progressive and compassionate Christian spirituality, in which justice is central to the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God. Our spirituality must engage with the world, and be consistent with the scientific and philosophical understanding on which our modern world is based. It must address the changes which science and technology have brought into our lives.

Implicit in that was a connection between what we do in Church and what we do in the world. We seek to share our food with the hungry, we seek justice for the oppressed and the captive, we seek a new start for all and recognize the wrongs that we and others have done to individuals and groups, as well as to other creatures and the physical world.

These things are intimately linked with what we do in Church. We gather around lectern and table to hear and receive the Word of God; we share forgiveness and peace with our neighbours, and eat with them, recognizing the presence of Christ as we do so. We are the body of Christ, not just in Church, but in the world. Our table fellowship is not just a symbolic table fellowship existing only within the confines of the church building; rather, all these things are one.

This close relationship was rediscovered both by the Evangelical revival and by the Oxford Movement. It was fundamental to the rise of Christian Socialism and lay at the heart of the Parish Communion movement.

And so in this new blog we shall look at the link and explore how our worship can reflect the social justice that we have proclaimed, and at the continuing relevance of this in the second decade of the twenty-first century. The title ‘Thinking Liturgy’ connects this blog to the parent ‘Thinking Anglicans’ and also indicates the intention to think about liturgy and promote liturgy that is thoughtful. We shall cover a range of liturgical topics and news, and try not to be confined to any particular theological or doctrinal stance or ‘churchmanship’, though our focus will be largely Anglican and English. We shall consider too how our worship, our liturgy, impacts on our mission. We intend to promote and share good liturgical practice, among both laity and clergy, and we shall explore liturgical presidency. We may provide sample material, and news of synodical authorization and commendation. We intend to review books and also services and buildings, and we will cover related blogs and other material on the internet. We expect to have a number of guest contributors and we welcome spirited liturgical discussion.


  • James says:

    There was a very positive review in yesterday’s Church Times of a new book on liturgical presidency. Table Manners (SCM) is, so far as I can tell, the first book to openly challenge the C of E’s disastrously laissez-fair policy towards liturgical formation (aided and abetted by the growth in non-residential training). It is a response to a question posed by Rowan WIlliams ‘Is there a liturgical crisis in the C of E?’ and the author insists that the poor quality of worship in the majority of our parish churches is a serious undermining of mission. Your excellent new blog should certainly have a review of this book.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Thank you Simon. This looks both interesting and useful.

  • Thanks. James: we have a number of books to review, and some of the reviews are written and queued up for publication. A copy of Simon Reynolds’s _Table Manners_ is with the reviewer.

  • Susannah Clark says:

    I very much welcome this new initiative.

    How we frame our acknowledgment and worship and coming to God (and to each other) in Church must surely impact on how we seek justice, love and mercy when we go out from Church to continue that liturgy in daily prayer, service and our relationships.

  • Dennis says:

    Looking forward to following this. Best wishes on the start of a very good project.

  • Alan says:

    I would challenge James’ comment that ‘the C of E’s disastrously laissez-fair policy towards liturgical formation’ is ‘aided and abetted by the growth in non-residential training’ since on the course on which I was trained (admittedly more that 20 years ago) liturgical formation was key, ongoing, and emphasized not diminished by the range of churchmanship of the students, from conservative evangelical to incense-swinging Anglo-Catholics.

    Rather, I suggest, modern liturgy suffers because of our modern, 20-second soundbite, solipsist, instantaneous, frenetic culture where silence and stillness are not valued and are,indeed, seen as inimical.

  • Thank you for this Simon, it is a much needed addition to the discussions, there being few of us liturgists out there and few ways to get together ….so this will be great 🙂

  • Labarum says:

    This new forum has potential, though it shares a very great weakness with “Thinking Anglicans”: only a select few may open a thread.

    Would not a vBulletin type forum not be better for both, even if comments are moderated before being shown to the world?

  • Had not realise that people cou;ld not open threads only a select few…how does one gain the dizzy heights of being able to open a thread?

  • Meg says:

    This is a splendid development. Really pleased. I will be following this.

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Well, looks interesting to see what will be up on this two cents (or two pence) worth..I wish we could get beyond modern liturgy=necessary for peace and justice issues dogma that is affecting the Episcopal Church USA. Some of us love our Coverdale psalter AND are fighting for a better and fairer world..

  • Susan Cooper says:

    This sounds the correct forum for raising my concerns about the intercessions in the Common Worship: Times and Seasons Good Friday Liturgy. How do I set about it?

  • Paul Andrews says:

    Very pleased to see this Simon – there is a distinct dearth of fora for liturgical discussion and this is an encouraging development

  • Pluralist says:

    I wish it the best. I am myself interested in this subject and although, of course, here it is Anglican, you might occasionally learn a bit as to how, in a liberal denomination, ie the Unitarians, formal liturgy has collapsed. The last main liturgical book with widespread frequent use into the 1950s and 1960s was the 1932 Orders of Worship. Everything else since has been fragmentary and beyond agreement, whilst the common material used has been broad, DIY, thematic, inclusive and socially progressive. Orders of Worship is now impossible to use, but I’ve had a go at trying formal liturgies from various standpoints.

  • JCF says:

    You had me at “in this new blog”! 🙂

  • Keith Kimber says:

    In welcoming this most appropriate initiative for our times, I hope that it’ll provide opportunity to reflect on the relationship between liturgical praxis and the range of spiritualities evident in the contemporary Anglican world.
    There’s need for critical debate about what truly nurtures and inspires Anglican identity and mission from the inner world as well as the outer.

  • Susan: I will create a post on which people can hang general Q&A topics. Hang on for a short while until the blog is properly under way.

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