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  • Jan Mahood

The Pause that Refreshes


Many of you remember when, in 1985, the Coca-Cola Company introduced New Coke to replace Coca-Cola, the leading soft drink in America. The campaign bombed. Fans of classic Coke didn't like the new drink and wouldn't buy it. So the company scrapped their plans and went back to original Coke.

"It's the Real Thing."

The Episcopal Church has not been as responsive to its "customers," the laity. You and I didn't like the revised prayer book, neither catholic nor apostolic, that was foisted on us in 1979, and we objected strongly. Unlike the Coke executives, Church leadership ignored us. But first they lied to us. Many of our priests told us, "If you don't like it, you can go back to the 1928 Prayer Book." Sound familiar? At about the same time the decision-makers at Coke were reintroducing the classic soft drink, a group of Episcopalians gathered in the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, NY, in the Diocese of Long Island, and formed a regional chapter of the Prayer Book Society (PBS), an organization of clergy and laity that supports Anglican traditional doctrine and worship. They were advised and encouraged by then PBS National Chairman the soft-spoken yet dynamic late Rev. Jerome F. Politzer of Carmel, California. In 2002, the Long Island Chapter of PBS formed a new nonprofit corporation, Episcopalians for Traditional Faith (ETF), the better to network with Episcopal laity beyond our diocese. ETF kept this name for 14 years as we strove to reestablish the standard of Anglican worship within the Episcopal Church USA through the "real thing," -- the ancient, beautiful, and true classic 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), altered very little since Archbishop Thomas Cranmer introduced it in 1549. (In most of the global Anglican Communion, the 1662 BCP of the Church of England is the standard. It is almost identical to the 1928, with a few changes to the American book, such as prayers for the president rather than the monarch.) For the next 14 years, ETF worked within the Episcopal Church. In 2016, we began to expand into other branches of Anglicanism, such as the continuing Anglican churches. The response to our outreach was encouraging. Most of the Anglicans we meet are former Episcopalians who say that our Church left us; we did not leave it. For most, the "new" prayer book was the deciding factor in their departure. For someone who has been a lifelong Episcopalian, this is a heart-wrenching experience. In contrast, it's a heart-lifting experience to attend a church in which one can worship with the classic 1928 BCP, and It makes a nice change to be greeted with warmth and gladness rather than ignored, insulted, and told, "If you don't like the new services, maybe you should find anther church."

In July 2016, we renamed our organization 1928 Prayer Book Alliance to reflect our expanding role in forming alliances with compatible organizations to our mutual benefit and the advancement of the 1928 BCP. Our income from book sales and donations enables us to publish and market 1928 BCPs, produce and mail our print newsletter 1928 Alliance Update, conduct services and speaking engagements, and purchase equipment. We designate a percentage of our income from 1928 BCP sales to Episcopal and Anglican churches, schools, and camps that use the 1928 BCP and affiliated charitable organizations..

I remember the "New Coke." It didn't have much taste. It lacked the full-bodied flavor of the original. It was weak and watered-down, and left a bad aftertaste, not unlike the agenda-driven prayer book revisions. -- JM


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