Monday, September 15, 2008

Open Source Liturgy Project: 4 Cores "Frozen" for Open Release


Today I can announce that after over a year of preparation, writing, feedback from scholars and leaders from many denominations, and lots of tweaking, I can announce (and show you!) the beginnings of the fruit of the Open Source Liturgy Project: 4 "Frozen" Cores now openly released.

I know that "frozen" may sound ominous. In the world of open source software, however, it's great news. It means that what has been developed has been tested and debugged and finalized enough to be considered reliable for use. It also means that any future changes to these are more likely to be editorial (saying the same things better or formatting them for easier use) rather than substantive. The Cores are like the kernel in Linux-- once they're finalized, you don't mess with them much. That way developers can know what they're working with and don't have to worry that changes in the Core could make their work incompatible or obsolete anytime soon.

What's in this "code release"? The basic guidelines for developing new ritual texts for baptism, Holy Communion, marriage, and services of death and resurrection (the latter two presuming primarily Christian participation). Still under development are two additional cores-- for marriage and services of death and resurrection when the persons involved may not profess the Christian faith. "Code freeze" date for those is October 15.

As with everything we'll produce in this project, the Cores are covered under a Creative Commons License (currently version 3.0) that allows for them to be copied and shared freely, but does not allow for them to be sold or altered without written permission.

Where can you see what's been done?

Right HERE.

The link takes you to the Release Candidates page of the Open Source Liturgy Project Wiki-- where resources developed in the project will be placed after they've undergone two rounds of testing, feedback and revision (core compatibility and field testing). You'll see the four categories for the cores down the left center of the page. Click on a category, then click on the name of the core document that comes up in the long rectangular box labeled Objects to the right and center.

It's a good beginning. I'm grateful for your ongoing prayers, support, feedback and participation along the way.

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards


thoughtsofresurrection said...

Taylor - Looks great. Thanks for sharing the cores. Looking forward to more work on the project.

Andrew Conard

Tom Jackson said...

How does one go about testing a liturgy? Are there objective standards, or is it just a consensus of personal preferences?

How are these open liturgies going to be better than the rituals that are already in the UMH, and in the hymnals or other worship books of all the other denominations, already?

journeyman37 said...


Glad you asked.

The answer is... twofold. First, what the developer produce is tested against the cores. If they're not found compatible, the core developers will suggest improvements to make them compatible. After that, it will be the same ways new liturgical texts have always been tested-- they're developed, made available for use, and those who use them are asked to give feedback about what works, what doesn't work, and what improvements they would suggest.

What will make these liturgies "better" is they will be both ecumenically and theologically sound and culturally indigenous. This is not a project that takes one text and tries to get it to fit every culture, receives feedback dominated by a majority culture, and then imposes the finalized version of that text on all cultures who use the official resource.

That's what EVERY official denominational resource that includes the majority cultures in the US has done-- until this project.

From day one, the core development team was (and remains and over time will grow more) diverse. From day one, the developers who will be listening in their communities and writing with the cores as guides will be very diverse-- male, female, African American, Spanish Speaking, Portuguese Speaking, Korean, Native American (two different Native American nations to start with), Appalachian, North, South, East and West, rural and urban and suburban, and United Methodist, United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church in Canada.

And this is just the beginning. As with open source software development, we envision this project as a platform that creates an opportunity for every denomination or network of churches (or whatever it may be called) that is open to new liturgical texts (not all are!)representing the best of the core of Christian liturgies through the ages AND the authenticity of the diverse voices of today's church in the US and around the globe.

We are less concerned in this project about whether it "plays in Peoria" and far more concerned about whether and how well it "plays" among the people and communities of the developers. (If those developers are from "Peoria," of course we want what they develop to work for them, too!) If what is developed is faithful to the core, and the communities who will find their voices, cadences, rhythms and languages in what the developers write say they developers have it right, after testing several versions of the same texts thoroughly over a period of at least a year (two cycles of at least six months of trial use and feedback from congregations in these communities), then the work on that piece is completed-- ready for full release.

And at no point along the way in this project will these pieces be tied down by restrictions on copying and sharing them freely by any means, print or electronic or whatever may come next.

The Episcopal Church got it right on that point with the Book of Common Prayer, which they immediately put into the public domain: if liturgy is the work of the people, it belongs to the whole people, everywhere, not just to the individuals who wrote it or to the companies that print it in books.

Hope that begins to answer your questions.

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards

Tom Jackson said...

Thanks for the quick and detailed answer; it looks like an interesting project.