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The Scandal of Particularity Writ Small: Principles for Indigenizing Liturgy in the Local Context

Susan Marie Smith


This article proposes an extension of the liturgical flexibility offered in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. First, it suggests that much-needed ritual competence could be developed through generating ritualizations in small groups to meet pastoral-liturgical needs by leaders who understand these local contexts from the inside (a strategy called indigenization). Second, it proposes four principles for the development of such rites. It ends with a call for intentional work toward developing ritual competence in the church. The York Statement on liturgical inculturation of the 1989 International Anglican Liturgical Consultation called for liturgical scholars to support the process of God’s continuing self-inculturation in the world in liturgy, and to enable the creativity and expertise of leaders and teachers to this end. This article is offered toward the hopes and in the spirit of the York Statement and the resolutions of the 1988 Lambeth Conference that inspired it.

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