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This Assembly of Believers

The Gifts of Difference in the Church at Prayer

This Assembly of Believers

The Gifts of Difference in the Church at Prayer

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Publisher: SCM Press
ISBN: 9780334059714
Number of Pages: 320
Published: 30/11/2020

"Among the symbols with which the liturgy deals, none is more important than this assembly of believers."

This claim made in the 1970s forces the local church to consider those within its congregation, and recognise the gifts and challenges of difference within the church community. In This Assembly of Believers  Bryan Cones seeks to take seriously the pastoral context of a congregation, recognising the physical ability, gender and sexuality of those who make up the congregation.

Starting each chapter with their lived experience, Cones poses important questions of the liturgy in light of these experiences before realigning the liturgy to demonstrate the positive theological significance of the marginalised within the congregation.

List of Abbreviations vii

Introduction: In Search of the ‘Boundless Riches of Christ’ 1

1. ‘This Assembly of Believers’: The Primary Symbol at Work 10

2. Assisted Reproduction: The Baptizing Assembly 70

3. ‘Christ Is Present in His Church’? Gender, Presiding, and the Primary Symbol 103

4. The Pastoral Care of ‘the Sick’: Assembling Bodies with Impairment 134

5. Equivalent, Equal, or Something New? Adjustments to Marriage in the Primary Symbol 162

Conclusion: ‘How Beautiful the Feet’: Discerning the Path of the Primary Symbol 197

Bibliography 219

Index 239

Bryan Cones

Bryan Cones is a presbyter in the Episcopal Church, a former book editor at Liturgy Training Publications, and was managing editor and columnist at U.S. Catholic magazine. He has served as adjunct faculty at the Episcopal Divinity School, and holds a doctorate in liturgical and practical theology from the University of Divinity in Melbourne, Australia.

"Revelling in ‘difference’, learned in past traditions, thinking and imagining anew in the context of conventional ways of going about things, and not just how we conduct ourselves in worship, we may find exciting possibilities of transformation opening up in the lives of all those involved. Shift ‘liturgy’ to the heart of theological study where it belongs - enjoy the grace of change – and the wit and sensitivity of this book!" -- Ann Loades, University of St Andrews, UK

"In this brilliant book, Bryan Cones leads us in relentless pursuit of a much-touted yet under-explored idea in liturgical theology: that the assembly is the primary symbol. Cones not only illumines this contention but inclusivizes it, very intentionally welcoming the gifts and graces of assembly members often overlooked—children, the bodily impaired, the LGBTIQA+ rainbow, and more. Subtle, smart, persistent, and fierce all at one, This Assembly of Believers tips us into bold depictions of the reign of God manifesting in our midst." -- Stephen Burns, Pilgrim Theological College, Melbourne, Australia

“This is an immensely rich, scholarly and imaginative work of liturgical theology. Scholarly and practical, theological and pastoral, It offers an expansive vision of the kind of church many hunger to experience, and shows how such a vision can be embodied in ordinary communities of the faithful.” --Nicola Slee, The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, UK