It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the rites and ceremonies of the church to which he belongs, which are not repugnant to the Word of God, and are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like, as one that offendeth against the common order of the church, and woundeth the consciences of weak brethren.
Every particular church may ordain, change, or abolish rites and ceremonies, so that all things may be done to edification.
I had not really dwelt upon this before. The big “out clause,” of course, is the “not repugnant to the Word of God” bit. Pastors are nothing if not capable of explaining how the Word supports what they want to do.
But setting that aside, reading that Article does get me thinking about a wide range of questions around United Methodist liturgy.
We have an approved set of liturgical materials in our hymnal and Book of Worship. We have clearly adopted statements regarding theology and practice of the sacraments.
Does a United Methodist pastor who rejects these materials stand in need of rebuke? By whom? And what exactly does it mean to “openly break the rites and ceremonies” of the UMC?
This is not a trivial matter. The Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith are foundational to the doctrine and practice of the UMC.
To make this about me. The church I serve still uses the 1964 Methodist Hymnal and an even older hymn book that is not Methodist. It strikes me that conformity with Article XXII means I need to reproduce our Service of Word and Table for the church to use on Communion Sundays.
We will be taking in some new members in the coming months, perhaps some by baptism. Article XXII makes me think that I should get some copies of the latest UMH baptismal liturgy printed up for this as well.