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Changes in the works for Holy Women, Holy Men

Changes in the works for Holy Women, Holy Men

Over the weekend, the Standing Committee for Liturgy and Music posted an essay on their blog proposing a new approach to the calendar of saints in The Episcopal Church.  

Their proposal would separate the still-under-trial-use Holy Women, Holy Men into its constituent parts, creating one book of weekday and seasonal Eucharistic readings, and a separate book of commemorations, tentatively entitled “A Great Cloud of Witnesses”. 


It is this second volume which would involve the most change from the current format, which, despite being studied since 2006, remains controversial throughout the church.  According to the SCLM, Episcopalians do not share a common view of what makes a saint, so the new volume would be intended to lift up those “Christians who have inspired other Christians in different times and places,”  rather than making a statement definitively on sainthood.

Going along with this shift, the criteria for inclusion the proposed new volume has changed as well.  The requirement to wait for fifty years prior to being submitted for inclusion has been dropped. The committee notes, as well, the tension inherent between expanding the inclusivity of those we remember, along with asking for widespread recognition of a particular person.

The SCLM has requested feedback on their proposed plan prior to February 22, via blog comments.  

The entire essay, which should be read in its entirety, is here.  Comment below their blog and tell them what you think! 

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Paul Woodrum

My Liturgical Desk Calendar is now crowded with so many holy men and women, I need a magnifying glass to read it. Dividing into categories sounds good.

However, I would like to see more New Testament folk added to the BCP “A” list to flesh it out, especially with women and deacons. I would suggest the following:

Mary, Martha & Lazarus of Bethany, Dorcus, Phoebe (D), Lydia, Cornelius, Joachim & Anne, Simeon and Anne, Joseph of Armathaea, Timothy and the deacons Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas & Nicolaus.

I certainly hope Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, social reformer teacher of poor children and first black woman ordained a Deaconess in the Episcopal Church will be included in the next round.

Lastly,I think it a mistake to drop the 50 year wait requirement as it takes a while to sort out current celebrity and appearances from witness for the ages.

Megan Castellan

Thanks, Derek. You’re right, and I’ve edited the article to reflect that. Let me know what you think.

Adam Spencer

This all makes good sense to me. I wish more of our work and witness as a Church displayed this sort of thoughtful detail and theological and historical grounding.

Derek Olsen

Thanks for posting this–one note of correction, though: regional and widespread recognition is still part of the plan for names to be considered for inclusion. That’s Criterion 5.

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