Claiming the Vision: Baptismal Identity in the Episcopal Church

Have you ever wondered who wrote the prayer book and how they decided what to put in or leave out?

Bloy House, ETSC has released an exciting new program for lay formation after several years of research and collaboration with the Evangelical Education Society and the Episcopal Church Center. “Claiming the Vision: Baptismal Identity in the Episcopal Church” is a six hour video course designed to help lay persons, seminarians, and clergy develop a deeper appreciation for the history and theology of the baptism rite in our 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The program is built on a set of extensive video interviews that Dean Sweeney did with three of the authors of the baptismal rite of the prayer book and an author of one of the Eucharistic Prayers in the Prayer Book.

The Most Rev. Frank Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr. Leonel Mitchell retired Professor of Liturgical Studies from Seabury-Western Theological School, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Stevick, retired Professor of Liturgical Studies from Episcopal Divinity School, and the Rev. Dr. Louis Weil, retired Professor of Liturgical Studies from Church Divinity School of the Pacific offer their fascinating remembrances and insights into the development of the baptismal rite of our prayer book and what that rite continues to mean for the church today.

The program is divided into five segments, each of which can be viewed individually or sequentially. Each of these segments covers numerous related topics by providing brief five to ten minute video clips on the topic followed by a set of on-screen discussion questions. Discussion Questions can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The Video segments are listed at right.

How to Best View the Videos
The program design was created to allow individuals and congregations to enter and leave the material easily, seeing one or two small discreet segments at a time and then being able to discuss them in greater detail. This was done so that communities that would like to see the program would have the flexibility to explore the depth of the material at a pace that would work for busy contemporary Christians. This design feature makes it possible for congregations to develop an adult formation program as short as twenty minutes in length or as long as a full day retreat. While we hope that people will choose to view “Claiming the Vision” in community and participate in the discussion questions that follow, the material also works well for those who want to use it privately for their own learning and inspiration.

Our dream has been to provide all those who have not been afforded the blessing of formalized graduate level Liturgical Studies course work with the same material presented to someone in seminary but offered in a way that is accessible to every Episcopalian. We developed a window into the process of writing the prayer book, showing the profound importance of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to the life of current day Episcopalians. This resource can help all Episcopalians better understand the ways in which the baptismal theology and baptismal ecclesiology which came to full expression in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer have reshaped and renewed life within the Episcopal Church. By doing so, all of us who have worked so hard and so long on this project believe we are doing our part to equip the church with leaders ready and able to minister in a 21st century world.

“Claiming the Vision” helps us understand what these bold, visionary church leaders were able to express to the Episcopal Church about what it means to be a follower of Christ. They witness to their Christian faith both in the superb theological insights they are able to present to listeners in a very accessible way and also through the depth of personal faith and faithfulness we witness in their own lives and their own stories. Those who see these videos will experience them as inspiring, challenging, and provocative, inviting us as Episcopalians to embrace more fully in our day and time the vision of faith and ministry proclaimed in the theology of our prayer book. We hope that many will choose to use them in Lenten programs and other adult formation programs over the coming years.

Discussion Questions

Download the Discussion Questions for “Claiming the Vision: Baptismal Identity in the Episcopal Church”

Claiming the Vision – 5 Part Video Series

Video 1:
Baptism and the Sacramental Life

Video 2:
The History and Theology of the Baptism Rite in the 1979 Prayer Book

Video 3:
Understanding the Baptismal Ecclesiology of the Episcopal Church

Video 4:
The History of the Rite of Confirmation

Video 5:
Advice for Those Designing Liturgies In the 21st Century