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An Apology: Acknowledging the Pain Liturgical Language Can Inflict

July 12, 2018
Office of Public Affairs

The Rev. Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn, chair of the 79th General Convention Worship Committee, offers this apology in recognition of the pain our liturgical language may at times inflict. In reference to the Christian Conference of Asia hymn “God of the Galaxies,” (Sound the Bamboo, CCA Hymnal, 2000)” with lyrics by New Zealand hymn text writer Shirley Erena Murray used in our Tuesday, July 10 worship service, Hunn said:

“I believe that when you make a mistake you apologize and do everything you can to try to make it right and also to make sure you don’t make that mistake again. So, today I want to say that I and the liturgy team made the mistake of including a hymn in our worship that caused pain to survivors of sexual trauma and others. The fact that language was used in any worship service, particularly in the worship of the General Convention is something I deeply regret.

“I feel particular sadness for the pain that hearing those words in church caused to faithful Episcopalians. How I wish that hadn’t happened, but it did.

“And I also feel sadness because this liturgy team of volunteers has worked hard to deliver culturally sensitive liturgy that reflects the beautiful diversity of our church. This mistake cast a shadow on their good work. They are gifted servants of the church and I want the church to see the good work they did.

“As is the case with every General Convention there will be a process for feedback.  We are also responding to feedback that we are hearing from social media and in other places.

“All of that feedback, that criticism, will be considered as the next team plans the liturgies for the next General Convention.

“In our church we confess our sins every day. We do that because we keep making mistakes. The forgiveness we seek is not cheap – but real change in our relationships – that real change is what I’m praying for – change in me and change in our church.

“What we are doing now is confession – acknowledging the mistake. I apologize for the pain – the real pain ­– that was caused.

“And what we will do is repent – turn in a new direction ­– make amends, try to heal the breach, and make the systemic changes necessary to make sure a mistake like this doesn’t happen again. I want this church to be different than this.”


The Rev’d Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn, chair of the 79th General Convention Worship Committee
Canon to the Presiding Bishop 
for ministry within the Episcopal Church