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The General Synod and the Nicene Creed (episode 3)
This week the Church of England General Synod finally voted to adopt a new translation of the Nicene Creed. This discussion started in November 1998, and continued in July 1999 and again in November. In January the House of Bishops resolved to return the text to the synod with the wording of the controversial clause changed as expected to read
From the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
And they also resolved to return it for a separate vote on this item alone, before proceeding to a vote on the totality of the Order for the Celebration of Holy Communion and the Eucharistic Prayers. Moreover, they decided that the version of the creed without the filioque clause, which is also included as an appendix to the same order, should not be amended in the same way.
After debate, the synod voted to accept what the bishops proposed. A two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each order was required. The voting was: Bishops 38-0; Clergy 197-12; Laity 149-56. The lay vote in favour was thus about 72%, or a margin of only 12 votes. Those still opposed now appeared to favour reverting not to the ASB version as had originally been proposed in 1998, but to the BCP version.
The vote on the entire Holy Communion package was Bishops 31-0; Clergy 175-1; Laity 164-17.
The actions taken last week by the General Synod, the number of English translations of the Nicene Creed that is authorized for use has increased by two. There already were four versions authorized, but as the authority for one of these will lapse at the end of this year, there will eventually be “only” five. Here’s the detail. It might make you wonder why so much fuss was made.
1. The text in The Book of Common Prayer  remains authorized. Not only does the BCP itself remain authorized indefinitely, but this text will also appear in Common Worship: Holy Communion Order Two.
2. The text in Rite A of The Alternative Service Book 1980 is authorized until 31 December 2000. It may lawfully remain in use in particular places for a short period of time thereafter, under Canon B2 which has been amended by synod to provide a specific procedure for bishops to allow this. (But see also item 4 below.)
3. The text in Rite B of The Alternative Service Book 1980, which is carried forward into Common Worship: Holy Communion Order One in Traditional Language. This version follows the 1928 Proposed book and restores “holy” to the phrase “one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church” but is otherwise like item 1 above.
4. A responsive form of the Nicene Creed has been authorized since 1993, along with various other Affirmations of Faith. It was published in 1995 in a book entitled Patterns for Worship. It will be included in a part of the forthcoming main volume of Common Worship. The wording is identical to ASB Rite A, i.e. to item 2 above. The difference is only that it is set out for responsive recitation.
5. A version of the Nicene Creed which is derived from the ELLC version rejected by the General Synod but includes the change from “and was made fully human” to “and was made man” which the synod had previously agreed, and also omits the filioque clause, will be included in an Appendix to Common Worship: Holy Communion with a rubric which says it is “for use on suitable ecumenical occasions”. The exact wording is given below.
6. The version agreed last week will be published in Common Worship: Holy Communion Order One. The exact wording is given below.
This text of the Nicene Creed, which omits the phrase ‘and the Son’ in the third paragraph, may be used on suitable ecumenical occasions.
Church of England version
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