We ask Mark Earngey about ‘Common Prayer for Homes’

We asked Dr. Mark Earngey at Moore College about Common Prayer for Homes: Resources for Family Worship, released in the last few days. It’s a wonderful resource. Much of it will be familiar to our readers, and some if it will be new.

Our questions to Mark are in bold text:

What is ‘Common Prayer for Homes’?

Common Prayer for Homes is a flexible set of liturgical resources put together to help churches during the period of this present coronavirus crisis.

It consists of two classic-style orders of service for Sunday household worship, one modern order of service for Sunday household worship with children, an order of service for daily devotions throughout the week, a collection of occasional prayers (especially oriented to new family rhythms at home), and the classic seasonal arrangement of prayers, known as collects.

Who was behind putting it together, and what sources did you use?

In the week that it was announced that churches could not physically gather indoors, I observed our churches rapidly and rightly scrambling for ideas and resources.  David Peterson and I spoke together and agreed that providing churches with some solid liturgical structures might be a great help at this time.  I consulted with various ministers (from different denominations and locations) regarding whether such a resource would assist them, and the overwhelming response was that it would indeed help.

So, with David Peterson and a small group of Moore Theological College (MTC) trained clergy in our Diocese, we set ourselves to the task.  Since MTC mission was impact by the coronavirus and thus reconfigured around producing resources, we spent the week writing, editing, and producing these liturgical resources. Bishop Michael Stead was a solid encouragement along the way, and assisted with the process of utilising BetterGatherings.com to distribute Common Prayer in Homes.  

In terms of sources used, the main liturgical resources were the Common Prayer (2012) and An Australian Prayer Book (1978).  Other resources included: Common Worship (2000), the Book of Common Prayer (1552), the Church of England Catechism (1553), and prayers rephrased or newly written by ourselves.

These sources come unashamedly from the tradition of Reformation Anglicanism, with their strong biblical and evangelical themes arising from the genius of Archbishop Cranmer’s liturgical team.

Many churches are producing livestreams or recordings of services during the pandemic. Isn’t that enough?

It has been such a delight to see the leadership of local churches banding together with ideas, suggestions, and advise on how to produce livestreams and recordings of services.  But is that enough?

Well, the ministers I have spoken to have a great pastoral intuition and know that this crisis calls for something more than the ‘Pastor as CEO’ type of model.  That is, it calls for ordinary pastoral ministry – phone calls, writing letters, setting up practical care teams, hosting Zoom Bible studies, enabling and releasing leaders to help the pastoral work, and being creative about how personal pastoral work can succeed at a time like this.

Further, it seems to me that now is not the time for passive and non-participatory corporate worship (cf., the Singing-Sermon-Spectator service).  Indeed, I think that our consideration of corporate worship ought not start with the question, “what can the pastor and up-front team deliver to the screen?” – but rather, start with the question, “what discipleship practices do we want to encourage and see happen in household worship?”.  This may mean asking worshippers to pray a prayer of preparation before the livestream begins, or pausing the pre-recorded service and spend some time in prayer, or it may mean asking someone in each household to pray the collect for the day, or leaving some time after the sermon for households to share words of encouragement, or having someone in the household praying for God’s blessing at the end of the service, etc.

One of the beautiful things about traditional Anglican liturgy is the participatory nature of corporate worship.  It’s a real gift, and we would be crazy not to utilise that at the present time. This is where Common Prayer in Homes comes in. It can be printed or opened up on an iPad or Tablet and then modified according to what your church is providing.  And anyone can use it – mature Christians and those young in the faith.  It contains Creeds, Confessions, Prayers, Collects, and so forth – and it contains instructions on how to use them in a service like this.

If people in our churches have not been exposed to much classical Anglican liturgy before, then they will be introduced to the new and exciting world of Scriptural richness and carefully crafted words of prayer and praise.  Rather than slim pickings on a Sunday, we can offer a great spiritual banquet suited to different households.

So, to your question: are live-streaming and pre-recorded services enough?

Well, here’s my answer: if, in the production of our services, we do not expect much participation beyond listening to a short Bible reading and a long sermon, singing some songs, and saying amen occasionally, then I think it’s not enough.  It’s not bad (we could do a lot worse!), but it’s a bit of a thin diet, and it misses the present opportunity to help grow households in the faith.  Perhaps the present challenges might even prod some of us to consider whether we quite have grasped the riches of our own Reformation heritage adequately.  Why not try a few weeks with Common Prayer for Homes and expand your parishioners’ spiritual horizons with the biblical wisdom handed down to us in the Anglican tradition?

One household – reeling from screen-tiredness – used it in conjunction with their church service, and wrote to me last weekend, saying: “it was the special touch we needed this morning”.  For these brothers and sisters, it was a helpful offline complement to the excellent online provisions offered by the church.

What hopes might you have about this resource once churches are able to meet again?

It would be great if our churches enjoyed the biblical wisdom of Anglican liturgy, and grew spiritually as we corporately confessed our sins regularly, soaked up Scripture multiple times during our services, heard a solid Biblical sermon, sung the praises of God’s glory with scriptural and extra-scriptural songs, prayed prayers for all kinds of people, and appreciated the rhythms of the church calendar.  That is, it would be great to see our churches embrace a biblically richer, and more active and participational style of worship.  And it’s not that hard either.

For those churches which utilise online service planning software, it would be great to see these important elements of worship added to the online service templates (=‘liturgies’!).  I have seen one church do a good job of this by including the Collects every week.  It was as easy as copying and pasting the seasonal collects into the weekly prayer role, and having that emailed out to the relevant person who leads intercessions on Sundays.

Above all however, it would be wonderful to see the men, women, and children in our churches strengthened in their convictions about Christ Jesus, and thus strengthened in their worship and witness!


Many of our readers will be familiar with the wonderful Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present, the fruit of much painstaking work by Mark Earngey and Dr. Jonny Gibson.

If not, learn more here. Doubtless, that work has been of great benefit in producing Common Prayer for Homes.

See this pre-publication commendation of Reformation Worship from Archbishop Glenn Davies:

“In the modern church where so little attention is given to ‘entering his courts with praise,’ this collection of liturgies should inspire and correct much of the blandness of the assemblies of God’s people on earth so that they might truly reflect that festal gathering of angels at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, to which we have already come.”

And another by Mark Dever.

Moore College, open for business: Joys and challenges during COVID-19, with Principal Mark Thompson

“Principal of Moore College, Mark Thompson, talks about how the College is faring in this season of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mark shares some encouraging stories of Christian love and mission amongst students and staff, describes how we have adapted our face-to-face learning to a temporary ‘online’ mode, and asks us to pray for Moore in the coming months as we seek to train even more gospel workers for the harvest.”

– The latest from Lionel Windsor at Forget the Channel. Encouraging.

Southern Cross — April 2020 — now online

Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Diocese of Sydney, is available online in a digital version – while congregations are unable to meet.

From Archbishop Glenn Davies’s column:

“The sad reality is that the potential for infection could now be anywhere in Australia. The growth in community-to-community infection is of greatest concern as the origin of the virus is unknown, unlike those infected by contact with people coming from overseas. Therefore, more precautions are needed to combat COVID-19. More restrictions on our daily lives will become necessary if the viral spread is not contained.

What else can be done? Well, you might expect me to say that the missing piece is prayer – and it is. …”

– Read the whole column on pages 21 and 22.

Download Southern Cross from this link. (Depending on your device, the PDF file may end up in your Downloads folder.)

We’re all building the plane while flying it!

“Hundreds of Sydney Anglican congregations have held church services via livestream or videoconference for the second week in a row, on a special day of prayer for the effects of the coronavirus. …”

– Russell Powell has a taste of what’s happening in Anglican churches around Sydney.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral Service 29 March 2020

Here’s this morning’s service from St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ video for the special Day of Prayer on Sunday March 29

Archbishop Glenn Davies speaks about praying through the Coronavirus pandemic and a special day of prayer on Sunday March 29th.

Download to play during your ‘virtual church’.

“Prayer is our best weapon against the forces of darkness, and this virus, as part of the fallen world, is exactly that. God’s in control, but this virus is doing a deadly work around the world.”

The Archbishop encourages us all to devote ourselves to prayer (Colossians 4:2) – and to be specific in our prayers. A very helpful video.

Tighter restrictions on home gatherings push fellowship online

“A number of new restrictions on gatherings mean that home groups are no longer possible according to government COVID-19 guidelines.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday night, that visits to homes, even with family, ‘should be kept to a minimum and with very small numbers of guests’. …”

– The latest from SydneyAnglicans.net.

(Photo: An almost deserted Sydney shopping mall yesterday.)

Archbishop Glenn Davies speaks about the COVID-19 crisis at The Pastor’s Heart

Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies joined Dominic Steele to answer questions on how we can lead our churches through the COVID-19 crisis – at The Pastor’s Heart.

33 minutes, well worth watching.

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ term extended to March 2021

“Archbishop Glenn Davies will continue to lead the Sydney Diocese until March next year, after his term was extended in the emergency circumstances of the Coronavirus.

Archbishops must retire at age 70. Dr Davies turns 70 in September and in order to allow a smooth transition had given notice that he would retire two months early, in July. This would have allowed an election Synod in August and the new Archbishop to chair the next Synod in October. The COVID-19 emergency means that the election synod will now not be held as scheduled.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese met on Monday night and voted unanimously to ask Dr Davies to withdraw his resignation to allow him to continue until March 2021.

Several Standing Committee members spoke strongly in favour of the move, saying it would allow stability of leadership through troubled times and help the Episcopal team remain at full strength to care for their regions.

Dr Davies absented himself during the debate and returned to applause as the decision was announced.

‘My wife and I have served Christ together in ministry for many years and are happy to continue to serve wherever we are needed,’ Dr Davies said. ‘I am humbled and grateful for the support of the Standing Committee. More than ever, I am thankful for the many people who uphold us in prayer.’ ”

– With thanks to Russell Powell at SydneyAnglicans.net.

Please continue to pray for Archbishop Davies and the members of his team as they preach Christ, and encourage churches to continue to be faithful in these trying times.

Churches challenged to continue care as they move online

“The first Sunday of Australian Christianity’s new normal has seen hundreds of Sydney Anglican Parishes go online, reminding members of the love of Jesus amid the pressures of COVID-19. …

‘I thank God for Sydney Anglicans who rose to the occasion today and met the challenges of not meeting in churches as they have done all their lives,’ said Archbishop Glenn Davies. …”

– Story from SydneyAnglicans.net.

Photo: Dean of Sydney Kanishka Raffel, during the Cathedral’s livestream.

Dr. Charlotte Hespe — What you must know about COVID-19

See this video, one from the Archbishop, and additional helpful information at the Sydney Diocese webpage on COVID-19.

Sydney Diocese launches COVID-19 webpage

The Diocese of Sydney has just launched a dedicated web-page for resources about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, there’s this encouraging message from Archbishop Glenn Davies, and a very informative video from Dr. Charlotte Hespe.

There are Frequently Asked Questions and links to helpful resources.

Bookmark it and see what’s there.

Sydney Anglican public gatherings suspended because of COVID-19

“Archbishop Glenn Davies has issued a public statement on the future of church services because of the spread of COVID-19.

‘In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement this morning, banning enclosed gatherings in excess of 100 people, I have decided that the Anglican Church in Sydney should suspend all public church gatherings until further notice.’ the Archbishop said.

‘We are encouraging all our churches to consider providing their services online or by other communication methods. We shall make every effort to care for our church communities and the wider public, especially those who are isolated and vulnerable. Anglicare Sydney will continue its vital work of showing Christ’s love in ministering to all people, especially older Australians. Anglican Schools will also continue to play a significant role in caring for students and families.’ the official statement said.

‘I call on all Christians to pray for health workers and those seeking to develop a vaccine and to pray that the spread of this disease may slow. God’s love for all people has not diminished, nor his sovereignty over his world. Therefore, I urge all Christians to continue to trust in God’s goodness and mercy in this crisis, and to show Christ’s love to those affected.’”

Via SydneyAnglicans.net.

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