In every changed circumstance and each new generation, the Church faces questions that invite review and discernment of its life. What was practiced in the past may or may not serve the Church and the gospel well in the present! COVID-19 is the current ‘changed circumstance’ that is inviting the church into critical discussion of past assumptions and ways of being and doing. Worship has moved online, new ways of connecting are being discovered, and we do not yet see the full extent of the changes that will endure.
This review and discernment is particularly evident in conversations that have emerged regarding the eucharist. As worship services have moved online, many are holding a eucharistic fast until we can gather again. Others are advocating, some very strongly, for a change in eucharistic practice to allow some form of ‘home eucharist’ during online worship. Others have spoken about the longstanding practice of ‘spiritual communion’. Since the eucharist is so central to our doctrine and faith, changes in this regard require thoughtful discussion of ‘scripture, tradition and reason’. This work has begun!
At the national level the Anglican Journal is sharing some of the voices and concerns being expressed. The Faith Worship and Ministry Committee is in the process of identifying a range of core theological, ethical, ecclesiological, and pastoral questions for consideration by clergy, theologians and lay leaders across our church. Their work will be shared with the Council of General Synod in the Fall, when it is completed, with the aim to share guidelines, theological reflections and a potential study guide more broadly as well.
Please pray for the FWM Committee, Dr. Eileen Scully and all who are seeking the best ways in which to live our sacramental life as Anglicans as we face these new challenges.
The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate
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