May 10th, 2014

Notes for organisers and leaders

The inside pages of this booklet are designed to be a ready-made order of service on a single sheet that you can simply photocopy and use as it is. The text is also available in a Word document on the WATCH website, so you can adapt it to fit your local requirements if you wish.

The liturgy is designed to be used in groups, and can be used in as formal or informal a setting as you wish – in a home, a meeting room, a chapel, church or cathedral.


The theme of the liturgy is ‘Looking towards the Promised Land.’ We have been journeying through the wilderness for a long time, and we are now at a turning point – whether we will enter the Promised Land or face a longer journey in the wilderness, we do not yet know; but either way we need to pause and prepare for a new stage of our journey. Nicola Slee has written a litany especially for us, to help us express our memories, prayers and hopes as we remember out journey so far and look towards the next stage.


You will need:

  • A cross.
    If you are sitting in a circle, you could put this on the floor or a small table in the middle of the circle. If you are sitting in rows facing an altar, you could put this on or in front of the altar.
  • At least one stone per person.

3 large candles.
These could be around the cross or slightly separate; they will be lit near the end of the service as you pray for the 3 houses of General Synod.


Within solidarity of the sisterhood we watch
Within blessings of the brotherhood we wait
Within cherishing of the church we witness
…the watching of the angels
…the waiting of the called
…and the witnessing of the world.
Be over us Watching One
Be beside us Waiting One
Be before us Witnessing One
…may the church, the angels and the world rejoice.
.                                                                                  Elizabeth Baxter, Holy Rood House.

A hymn may be sung

Litany of struggle and remembrance

1st voice          Wandering for years in the wilderness
looking for a way out, a way forward

2nd voice         footsore, parched throats, sunstroke, hardened skin, clothes worn thin

3rd voice         going round in circles, chafing at the bit
bored with limited rations, angry with our leaders
irritated with each other
forgetting where we’ve come from
losing the sense of where we are going

1st voice          Some of our mothers died in the desert
bones bleached by sun, unremembered graves

2nd voice         Others went mad with the waste of it
patience worn to the bone

3rd voice         Some wrested power for themselves,
refusing to wait for scraps from the master’s table

1st voice   Others absconded, abandoned the caravan trail,
headed off on their own up isolated ravines seeking an oasis,
the impossible dream.

2nd          We hear snatches of their stories,
but much is lost, scattered in the desert sands,
snatched up by the wind and blown away.

All             We remember the ones we knew or heard tell of:

3rd           women who refused to give up on their calling,
who had a sense of our common destiny to share a sacred priesthood,
who led the way when few were ready to follow

1st            women who kept vigil, protecting the embers
of the fire of God’s smouldering passion
who spoke out against restriction, limitation, small and mean vision,
who took their elders to task, shamed them, demanded something better

2nd          women who hunkered down for the long haul,
who prayed their way through refusal, ignorance, resistance,
who found the means to inspire and nourish sons and daughters
when they had been offered little themselves

3rd           women who heckled and complained and insisted
when many around them demanded they keep silence;
women with bold, expansive dreams and theologies to match

1st            women who clung to the hem of the garments of healing,
refusing to let go,
who wrested a blessing from their opponents,
who blazed a trail for others to follow

2nd          Women too numerous to name,
even when their names have been remembered

All             We remember them,
We mourn them and celebrate them,
We take hold of their boldness and courage,
We are here because of all they have dared and hoped and believed,
We will not fail them now.

Nicola Slee

 Stories of the journey

Bible Reading Deuteronomy 30.11-20

Prayer ritual

This is not just our journey – it is the journey of the whole of the Church, and all those the Church is called to minister to. Let us now pray for all who are on this journey, willingly or reluctantly, knowingly or unaware, joyfully, brokenly, with friends or alone. As you make your prayer, aloud or in the silence of your heart, you are invited to place a stone by the cross to represent those on the way.

A chant may be sung

Litany looking towards the promised land

Leader     We’ve learnt to survive in the wilderness;
All             are we ready yet for the promised land?

We’ve filled our bellies hastily with the limited fare of sojourners;
are we ready to feast at our own tables
pomegranates, dates and figs?

We’ve worn thin our dusty pilgrim tunics;
are we ready to robe ourselves in fine silks and costly garments?

We’ve eked out an existence in alien territory;
are we ready to take possession of our own land?

We’ve been nomads, camping out in desert wastes,
no place to call our own;
are we ready for a settled life,
nowhere to escape to when things go wrong?

We’ve recited a history of slavery and shared oppression;
are we ready to make a new history
shaped by responsibility and freedom?

We’ve railed against the power others have wielded over us;
are we ready to take up our own power, use it for each other’s good?

We’ve stuck together in a hostile environment,
sharing a common enemy;
are we ready to face different and disagreement,
the dialogue that comes with power?

We’ve kept each other going with the rhetoric of utopia;
are we ready to face the frustrations and disappointments of the real?

Nicola Slee

Prayer for those who will choose our direction

Almighty God,
you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church, to lead us into all truth:
bless with the Spirit’s grace and presence the members of General Synod;
in the house of Bishops                                                      (light the 1st candle)
in the house of clergy                                                         (light the 2nd candle)
and in the house of laity.                                                   (light the 3rd candle)
Keep them steadfast in faith and united in love,
that they may manifest your glory and prepare the way of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
Amen                                                                                       Adapted from Common Worship

 A hymn may be sung

 WATCH Prayer

Gracious, loving Lord,
we look forward with hope and joyful anticipation
to the time when men and women can serve you, and all people,
equally in every task within your Church.
Thank you that every position held and task done
is valued by you and furthers your mission on earth.
Thank you Lord for hearing our prayer.

Amen                                                                                                Rev’d Canon Pamela Wilding

Closing blessing

The blessing of the God of Sarah and Hagar, as of Abraham;
The blessing of Jesus, born of the woman Mary;
The blessing of the Holy Spirit who broods over us
as a mother over her children,
Be with us now and forever.
Amen                                                                                                         The St Hilda Community



We have suggested two places in which you could include a hymn.

We have also suggested singing a chant during the prayer ritual – a Taizé chant or something similar may be appropriate; you may wish instead to play quiet background music or simply be quiet.

Stories of the Journey

This is a point at which you may choose to invite one or more people in advance to come and share the story of their journey to this point – the struggles and the rejoicing.
You may, depending on the size of your congregation, wish to invite everyone present to share their story, or the story of someone who has inspired them. You may like to invite each person to put a stone at the foot of/around the cross as they finish telling their story, in which case make sure you have plenty of stones as each person will also need one for the prayer ritual.

Prayer Ritual

This is an opportunity to offer our own hopes and fears to God, but also to intercede for others who will be affected by the outcome of the General Synod vote.

Prayer for those who will choose our direction

This is a prayer for General Synod. You may like to pray by name for the Synod members from your Diocese, adapting it like this;

Almighty God,
you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church, to lead us into all truth:
bless with the Spirit’s grace and presence
the members of General Synod in the house of Bishops                 (light 1st candle)
especially Bishop N, representing our Diocese;

bless with the Spirit’s grace and presence
the members of General Synod in the house of clergy    (light 2nd candle)
especially N, N, (etc) representing our Diocese;
and bless with the Spirit’s grace and presence
the members of General Synod in the house of laity                         (light 3rd candle)
especially N, N, (etc) representing our Diocese.
Keep them steadfast in faith and united in love,
that they may manifest your glory and prepare the way of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

Additional prayer resources

WATCH have also produced a Novena (reflections, readings and prayers for the 9-day period leading up to the vote), and prayer cards in two sizes with the WATCH prayer.

There are also additional prayers and reflections on the WATCH website.