The Church of England has issued a rebuttal of a 'misleading' and factually inaccurate Mail on Sunday story about changes to its baptism liturgy.
The report in the the newspaper on 5 January 2014 is incorrect in a number of respects, the church says.
For example, the story claims that “the baptism ceremony had not been altered for more than 400 years until it was changed in 1980”. Actually it has been revised three times in the past 30 years.
The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, writing on his Facebook page, commented yesterday: "One of the silliest non-stories in history. The 'old traditional wording' dates back to, er, 1998…".
The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use for 15 years. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.”
Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptism service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.
The Liverpool motion was passed by General Synod and as a consequence the liturgical commission has brought forward some additional materials for discussion by the General Synod at a future date where they will be subject to final approval by the Synod.
At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of the April.
The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod, the Church of England's governing body, consisting of houses of bishops, clergy and laity.
* Comment from Ekklesi associate Savitri Hensman: "Is baptism being watered down?" - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19842