The three bishops, who have spearheaded the work of the worship service in recent years, attended the liturgy conference and they brought concrete suggestions on how the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark can continue to work with the liturgy. With their six proposals, they aim to preserve the current order of worship (gudstjenesteordning) from 1992 but add more room for variations and strengthen the ongoing work of renewing the worship service within the current framework.
Baptismal Commission and Liturgical Forum
The conversation and debate from recent years about the course of the church service (the liturgy) has not uncovered a need for fundamental changes, according to the bishops. Therefore, they propose the variation possibilities offered by the present order be updated and expanded. Only in the case of the baptismal rite do they suggest setting up a commission:
- Baptism and the baptismal rite are central in our church, says bishop of the Diocese of Funen, Tine Lindhardt.
- Therefore, we believe that a baptismal commission is needed to look at the various proposals that are in play, both language adjustments, the possibility of additional readings and potentially additional prayers and other things. Even minor adjustments can be of great significance, and therefore a thorough theological treatment of it in the church as well as in the public.
The bishops suggest that the work with the liturgy of the service be done on an ongoing basis in a "liturgical forum".
- In our opinion, it will be important to establish a liturgical forum in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark, says Bishop of the Diocese of Ribe, Elof Westergaard.
- It will be a forum where we can be inspired and gain greater knowledge about liturgy and worship. It will be a place where the work with the liturgy is paramount in supplementary education offers and in working groups. In connection with this, we also imagine that work will be done on hymn book supplements.
The Liturgy Conference Was Open for Digital Participation
The liturgy conference took place physically in Fredericia for invited participants from the ten dioceses and denominational organizations, and it was open to digital participation for all. By the end of the registration deadline, 120 people had registered digitally, while 149 people participated in the physical conference. At the conference, the proposals were thoroughly discussed and processed. A decision on what is to happen next in the work with the order of worship must be made at a bishops’ meeting in January of 2022.
The Six Proposals
A Liturgical Forum can have two employees affiliated with the Church Music Schools (Kirkemusikskolerne) and the Church of Denmark’s Education and Knowledge Center (Folkekirkens Uddannelses- og Videnscenter) and ad hoc appointed working groups consisting of lay people and professionals. The task of the Liturgical Forum will be to publish a hymn book supplement with new hymns and prayers every five to ten years and provide liturgical training and inspiration for parish council members and staff.
2. Baptismal Commission
Even minor linguistic changes in the baptismal rite can be of great significance. Therefore, it is proposed that the Ministry of Church Affairs set up a commission whose proposals are sent for broad consultation in the Church before any changes are implemented.
3. Altar Book Supplement
The current Altar Book Supplement from 1993 has newer prayers and liturgies for other services than the high mass which the parish councils and pastors can choose to use. A new Altar Book Supplement may, for example, have several new prayers, alternative readings and liturgies for shorter services and lay services. The 1992 authorized order of worship has three different communion liturgies. A new Altar Book Supplement could add several communion liturgies to choose from.
4. The High Mass Guide
The High Mass Guide is the bishops’ introductory section of the Ritual Book, where they guide the use of the Ritual Book and its possibilities for variation and change. A new wording of the introduction may incorporate some of the minor changes that have become common since 1992.
5. Liturgical Guide
A new and broader guide may contain liturgies for, for example, children’s and youth services, outdoor services, and more background knowledge about the service itself.
6. Statement of Supervision
The bishops oversee the life of worship in their dioceses. This means that they must ensure that the service follows the authorized liturgy of the Church with the possibilities of variation it contains, and they must approve applications to exempt from the order of worship. A new joint statement should clarify how the bishops each understand the role of the overseer in relation to the local worship life.