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JLS 90

Joint Liturgical Studies

Joint Liturgical Studies offers a valuable contribution to the study of liturgy. Each issue considers a particular aspect of liturgical development, such as the origins of the Roman rite, Anglican Orders, welcoming the Baptised, and Anglican Missals. It is aimed at all with an academic interest in worship.

It is published twice a year in partnership with the Alcuin Club, which promotes the study of Christian liturgy, and the Group for Renewal of Worship (GROW).


Volume 90: Inculturating Liturgy in Sri Lanka

Contextualization in the Church of Ceylon

Phillip Tovey

The Church of Ceylon, in Sri Lanka, is an extra provincial Anglican church whose two dioceses are locally run but with oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Christians, and in them Anglicans, are a small group in a predominantly Buddhist and Hindu country. There is a well know history of violence and hostility between various groups in the country, including the recent bombing of churches.

This context leads to an existential need to engage in inter-faith dialogue and contextualization. Are Christians essentially drawn out of their culture and become foreigner in Sri Lanka? In the Church of Ceylon there has been a long tradition of inculturation in dress, architecture, music, and liturgical text. This study tries to bring this story to light.

While questions of inculturation and contextualization are of importance throughout the Christian church, the story of the Church of Ceylon is not well known. It deserves to be known better and is an example to other parts of the Anglican Communion. While each context is different some of the work in Sri Lanka will be of help in other places where there are significant Buddhist communities.

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