The Rev. Canon Leonel Mitchell has died

UPDATED: see below

From the Rev. Brian Grantz of Northern Indiana:

Greetings, Sisters and Brothers in Christ.

The Rev. Cn. Leonel Mitchell, theologian, teacher, pastor, and friend, died this afternoon following a brief illness. Canon Mitchell was known to many from his days teaching liturgy at Seabury-Western and the University of Notre Dame, to many more whose liturgical education required “Praying Shapes Believing,” and to all of us, knowingly or not, through his work on the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It has been my great honor to serve with him at the Cathedral of Saint James in South Bend these past four years.

Please keep his wife, Beverly, in your prayers, as well as his children, David and Anne, and their families.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


The Rev. Canon Leonel Mitchell, whose words echo at every Baptism held in an Episcopal church, died May 23 after a short illness.

Mitchell, 81, drafted the Thanksgiving over the Water prayer for the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, restoring what one commentator called “allusions” to “the primary biblical archetypes” that previous version of the prayer book had eliminated.

Mitchell was influential in many ways over the 1979 version of the prayer book, and its introduction to the church. His “Liturgical Change: How Much Do We Need?” was “highly recommended” as a “concise study course for parish use” when the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer was released in February 1976 for study in parishes. The draft prayer book was subsequently approved by the General Convention in 1976 and received final approval three years later.

Mitchell’s liturgical influence extended after the prayer book revision years, as seminarians, theologians and others read and studied his many books, essays and other writings, especially his 1985 book “Praying Shapes Believing: A Theological Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer.”

Praying shapes believing, he wrote, because “worship, religious activity in all of its aspects – what we do and how we do it, as well as what we say and how we say it – underlies religious belief.”

More at Episcopal News Service.

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  1. Lois Keen

    Oh, Lee, God bless you. Rest, now, in Peace. (Lois Keen, S-WTS class of1997)

  2. Michael Russell

    Lee was a delightfully acerbic brilliant teacher and friend. I shall miss seeing him at GC. He taught me the BCP from one end to the other and every day his attention to detail in that instruction has served me well.

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