Thinking Anglicans

House churches in the early church

The Revd Peter Anthony, Vicar of St Benet’s, Kentish Town in London has recorded a half-hour talk on why what we’re doing now is not a copying of the house churches of the patristic era.

View it here on You Tube. I strongly recommend this video.

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Revd Dr John Caperon
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Revd Dr John Caperon

Grateful thanks to Peter Anthony for setting out some of the ways in which our present, enforced context for worship is just not comparable to the ‘ideal’ house church of the early centuries of the Christian Church. We can’t use the present closure of our churches as a model of the way things ought to be; our sacred places are vital to the future of ministry and mission.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re: Revd Anthony’s video, the most telling comment comes, pretty much in passing, in the last minute or two i.e. that we are in a new situation that requires us to think and be creative (paraphrasing). Rather than to ancient house churches, the better place to look is contemporary sacramental theology. Does it provide a ground for priests continuing to offer Eucharist in creative ways? I think it does. Forgive me, but I couldn’t help but notice the number of times Peter Anthony touches his face during his talk. We are told by public health, difficult as it is not… Read more »

Russell Dewhurst
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Russell Dewhurst

Father Peter’s lecture provides an incisive and magisterial contribution to the debate surrounding our understanding of what churches are doing at the moment. Some restrictions are necessary, but they are not a happy recreation of patristic glory days.
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Adrian
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Adrian

Always nice to avoid fetishising an idealized but false image of the early Church.

Why not suggest people emulate the self-sacrifice of those who sold their homes and gave the money to the Church in the imminent expectation of the Parousia? (Ah now then, what about the homeless, those who rent etc?)

Kieran
Guest
Kieran

It’s a well-argued piece, and very persuasive. But I wonder if there’s something underlying that might be worth pondering. For many clergy this is a period of discovery on many levels that raises areas of critique on their professional self-understanding. One priest I know has remarked that the current situation is revealing the shallow formation of many people in his congregation, where faith commitment is equal to attending Sunday services. Out in social-media world there’s a blossoming of creative worship being shared in live streams and videos. Some of the worship coming from laypeople in their homes is of remarkably… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

I wonder how much clergy know about how diverse laypeople seek to live out our faith in our lives? Not all of us talk much about this in church settings, for a variety of reasons. I am sure there is shallow spiritual formation among many, ministers and laity alike. However I wonder whether there is a tendency now to assume that those of us who miss collective worship in a physical space and the sacraments (while hopefully understanding why these cannot be safely provided for quite a while) are alarmingly superficial, whereas we should just get on with doing good… Read more »

Chris A
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Chris A

and I forgot to mention the lock down in Italy has been far more stringent there than it has in this country which makes the bishops seemingly very odd views even more incomprehensible.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Speaking of home church, just read The Guardian coverage of +Welby celebrating Eucharist from Lambeth kitchen. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘celebrity cook’. His defense of bishops closing English churches to clergy lacked clarity. I watched some of the Eucharist from Westminster Cathedral this morning,and the live streamed Easter Vigils from St. Peter’s Rome and St. Patrick’s New York overnight. If only there had been an Anglican equivalent. The ‘production values’ from those sacred spaces were not too shabby. Knowing the sacred space itself is being used, although starkly, was meaningful, generated gravitas. Much appreciated inter active… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

There is an Anglican equivalent- St. John’s cathedral in hong Kong .

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks, went to the website, could not find a link to worship. If there is one, perhaps you could post it?

Charles Read
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Charles Read

They have put it on YouTube now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MuGFu1cfMY&feature=youtu.be

The order of service is on the website still:
https://www.stjohnscathedral.org.hk/files/site/4/pew_bulletin/Pew%20Bulletin%20for%20web%2012%20April%202020_200409153811.pdf

Generally on the Sunday, the cathedral website has a direct link to the service.

Richard
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Richard

St. Thomas Church, New York City, has had webcasts of services all week. Conducted at the high altar, there have been organ meditations (in place of hymns) and great preaching.
https://www.saintthomaschurch.org/events/the-great-vigil-first-eucharist-of-easter/

Kennedy Fraser
Guest
Kennedy Fraser

St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODh50LOp-QE

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks to the three commentators above for the links. Great to see those very creative and meaningful liturgies for Easter from other places in the Communion. I found the sermon by Fr. Spencer from the St. Thomas’ Vigil in New York, story telling around the fire, very poignant. The opportunity for spiritual communion at home on Easter day at St. Thomas, and the invitation to light a candle at home from the liturgy at Perth to be excellent simple interactive opportunities. The production values for those services and that from St. John’s, Hong Kong are very good.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Several helpful posts about Anglican online worship from churches in various places. However, I should have been more specific above, as I was in reply to a post by Simon Sarmiento over at Episcopal Cafe. (link) Too bad there could not have been a liturgy from Canterbury Cathedral for the Vigil as there was from Rome. I’ve seen some very nice Anglican Eucharists done from Homes as +Welby did; but Welby’s offering as ABC lacked the gravitas by comparison with Rome. Perhaps someone can explain to me why the Bishops in England felt it necessary to close churches to their… Read more »

Tony Bellows
Guest

There is another Anglican equivalent closer to home – the Church in Wales.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The Globe and Mail Covid coverage is available free. Hopefully you will be able access the linked article. It has a very nuanced view, going beyond mere historical analogies, of the complexities of what many of us are doing worshiping at home via online resources. The author is a Roman Catholic English prof and novelist. The link is below the teaser. ” …in a real way, with immediate demands and effects and implications, religious leaders and believers need to figure out what’s possible and not possible, what our commitments should newly entail and still should not.”

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-metaphysical-distancing-have-we-isolated-ourselves-from-god-too/#comments

Tim Chesterton
Guest

At St. Margaret’s Edmonton we had a really enjoyable Easter morning service on Facebook Live, using the ‘Service of the Word’ materials on the anglican.ca website. I encouraged people to make comments (to me and to each other) as the service was going on, and that made it a really nice interactive experience. no, it’s not like having their faces in front of me, but I got the sense they were really appreciative, and we were joined by some folks from further away as well. Lots of joy expressed, and also lots of longing to be together again.

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Yesterday I watched a eucharist recorded in the interiors of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin (excellent sermon, as usual, from archbishop Michael Jackson; the dean, Dermot Dunne, and the dean’s vicar, Abigail Sines, also conducted worship). I also watched one recorded inside Christ Church Cathedral Waterford (dean Maria Jansson preached and led prayers), and it was cut with worship from inside other churches in the Waterford Union (Annestown, Dunmore East and Tramore). Again, very well done. As I tend to go presbyterian north of the Solway Firth/Tweed, I also watched pre-recorded Easter worship from St Kentigern’s/St Mungo’s Cathedral Glasgow (expertly put… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

Admitting, immediately, that I have not seen it, I cannot help wondering why the Archbishop’s service came from the kitchen of Lambeth Palace. If there is any symbolism, it escapes me. Like Froghole, I have watched international services and one local one from a Winchester parish. I thought Pope Francis’ ‘Urbi et Orbi’ from St Peter’s was very moving and such a contrast to its usual form. I managed a ‘visit’ to Tim Chesterton’s St Margaret’s Edmonton – TA solidarity. The liturgy and music from the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, are always impressive, but… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Whether or not we feel it works or is appropriate, I found the most natural symbolism to be in his leading worship from the place that, in most homes, is the centre of the daily, ordinary routines of life and sustenance.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I’m not certain that I would elevate the kitchen to quite that status. However, I made clear that I had not seen the service. The one from my local church took the form of a celebration in the Rectory garden, with the Gospel, readings, intercessions and sermon interposed from indoors. In the garden there was a large wooden cross in the background, and just the occasional bird song to be heard. It felt very like Easter to me, but I fully accept, of course, that we will all respond differently to new circumstances. The point of my comment was the… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Rowland Wateridge. Susannah comments well on this below but may I just add that this is precisely not ‘elevating’ kitchens or the language of status. Quite the reverse. It is seeking, worshipping and following Christ in and from the most ordinary, day to day of places – and Christ is to be found there.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I also comment further below about the streamed service in which I participated. I see a direct connotation between Easter and a garden, and, indeed, the divine gardener as Mary Magdalene at first perceived him. I really see no need for admonition in drawing a distinction between the Easter garden and the Archbishop’s kitchen. As I have said, I did not watch the Archbishop’s service, but was surprised that it came from a kitchen and I am, evidently, not alone in that reaction.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Rowland. I hope you did not read admonition in my words. They were never intended. I was suggesting where the symbolism might be intended in using a kitchen as the ABC did. It would not have been my choice. Like you I find the garden image very powerful and I am very fortunate to have one at this time. I spent some of Maundy night, the Three Hour on Good Friday and Holy Saturday out there. Very moving.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Do I detect some tetchiness? It’s as well we don’t all agree. Some people might say that the C of E has over the last 50 years moved gradually closer and closer to the kitchen sink in an attempt to be relevant, homely and attractive. That strategy hasn’t been conspicuously successful. Indeed, it’s well on the way to disappearing completely down the plughole.

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

Hear! Hear!

Gordo
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Gordo

Then why not do it there every week? Don’t bother with expensive buildings, was the message I got from this.

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

You did not get that message from any of my posts here. We are in an interregnum caused by force of present circumstances. What is happening now is a substitute for collective worship (with music and ceremonial important to some people) in church, and when this crisis is over, possibly with some changes, that will return.

Tony Bellows
Guest

I’m fed up with being inside and seeing my own kitchen. I don’t really want to see the Archbishop’s as well. Easter Day from Bangor Cathedral was, for me, far more uplifting, and a pause from the daily, ordinary routines. Isn’t Sunday supposed to be a special day, not an ordinary day like any other?

If I want to see something holy and inspiring in a kitchen, in a creative way, I’d sooner watch Delia Smith cooking.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Tony Bellows. You made the right choice then and I am pleased for you! But I am also reading comments from people who have found the sense of expressing worship and prayer in the heart the home has been new and meaningful. As to calling Delia Smith’s cooking ‘holy’ – well I think that probably belongs in the current discussions on lay presidency.

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I think that funding to pay for either clergy or buildings, let alone both, may be imperilled if church leaders fail to demonstrate their understanding of congregation members (along with other people who feel connected to local churches) who feel that something important is missing at present (even if this cannot be safely avoided). This is a grim situation in which important needs – physical, emotional, spiritual – may go unmet on a major scale but it would be useful to acknowledge the sense of loss, I think, if wishing to minimise the risk of a sharp drop in income… Read more »

Fr John Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Harris-White

Kennedy thank you for the link to St Ninian’s Perth. We were richly Blessed by our College of Bishops in the Scottish EPISCOPAL church from Palm Sunday through Holy Week to Easter Day.
Bishop Ian brought us all together to celebrate our Risen Lord.

As the Queen reminded us Easter is not cancelled.

Fr John Emlyn

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

I agree that it is really important that we don’t make dewy eyed and parallel comparisons with the early church (or indeed the church of any era), however I disagree with Peter’s assertion that our worship is now individualised because we are being compelled to worship at home. The Mystery of Christian Worship is that whenever and wherever the common prayers of the church are offered we cease to pray solely as individuals but as members of the One Body. Language (liturgy) has the effect of binding us together as community, even when dispersed.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I agree. I belong to the Fellowship of a convent. I regard it as a positive not a negative, that the Community not only has gathered sisters leading lives of prayer in convent but also has dispersed associates leading lives of prayer as well. We are One in Jesus Christ. When we pray, on the prayer level we are praying together, and I sometimes experience that vividly. At that point distance does not separate us, because we become part of the shared presence in God. And there is also a valued sense of sharing together as well. Of course, it… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

An added significance of the service from the Rectory garden which I mentioned in my post above was shared prayer for a friend who had died on Maundy Thursday in a faraway place but included in the prayers because he was my friend, and his wife knew that prayers were being offered for him equally in a faraway place. We also prayed for a sick retired bishop living in the parish, and I have just learned that he has died during the night. In both cases we believe there will be resurrection. People who did not know my friend prayed… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I’d just like to endorse and back up what Rowland says. I’ve seen many examples of priests and lay church members responding in heart-warming ways, to help, to encourage, to mobilise. It’s deeply moving and testifies to the pastoral heart in so many church communities up and down the land. I give thanks for our priests/ministers and the way they continue to give their lives in the service and building up of community. This goes on, in good times and in bad, supported of course by lay people as well. Crisis can also be opportunity. I hope the present very… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Every episcopal and clerical message, every streamed service, and every church YouTube video that I’ve read or seen recently refers to exceptional or unprecedented or extraordinary times. There is, usually implicit but sometimes exolicit, the expectation that things will get back to the status quo ante. They might not. RNA viruses mutate, vaccines don’t always work, new viruses emerge especially in densely populated areas, populations don’t behave as politicians demand (neither do politicians themselves). And more. Just as tectonic plates do the “things that come naturally” leading to quakes and tsunamis, so viruses do the “things that come naturally” leading… Read more »

Fr John Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Harris-White

In these posts I believe we all try to be positive. We are well aware of the dangers of this virus and others to the human race. BUT we are Christians with a faith that the Easter events shape our hopes and our lives. Christ IS Risen. It is in that hope we live, and share by example that hope with our fellow human beings.

Fr John Emlyn

Kate
Guest
Kate

At one level, it doesn’t matter. It is all lay participants are being offered so for them , by grace, it is sufficient.

The question remains, however, whether those who have sworn service as ministers should be doing more.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I”m a regional dean, and every priest and deacon in my deanery is giving 150% right now. If they try to do more, I’m afraid some of them are going to keel over.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I’m sure you correct about that Tim. No doubt many of those phone calls that pastors are making become extended pastoral counseling conversations via phone, trying to support people who are dealing with personal or family crisis either caused by or compounded by the Covid 19 pandemic.

Kate
Guest
Kate

But that doesn’t mean that they are doing the right things. Many people can give pastoral care: only priests can (under current rules) lead the Eucharist and whether it is right for them to be doing it from home rather than livestreaming from church remains a live discussion.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Really does not address Tim’s point about clergy burnout. Yes, as someone who believes in the whole people of God, and has facilitated lay training, I agree many people can provide pastoral care–if they are properly formed, trained, and accountable to the community that commissions them. There too burnout becomes an issue. Without proper accountability for lay ministry one risks ending up with amateurs with an axe to grind or even religious quackery.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I couldn’t agree more, Rod.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘Many people can give pastoral care.’ Er, no. Many people can love, yes, and that’s vital, but not many can give pastoral care. Many *think* they can, but in my experience, most of them talk too much, offer too much advice, try to get people to cheer up by attempting to make them believe their problems aren’t as serious as they believe, etc. etc. And I’m sorry, but in a time of stress such as we are going through right now, with people getting sick and dying in every community, to spend any more time on the issue of whether… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Can you say a bit more about the extra demand, Tim (or other clergy ministering elsewhere)? For instance is it mainly based on making more phone calls to parishioners thought to be vulnerable and who require extended pastoral counselling, are many more people getting in touch who are not churchgoers?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Savi, I’m in Canada where we’re not an established church, so our experience of it might be different than in the C of E. But I think there are many layers to it. First, there’s the general stress and busyness that everyone’s experiencing. Shopping takes more planning; family meetings by video chat are complicated; many of my colleagues have children at home trying to keep up their schooling etc. etc. Worries about sickness, mortality etc. Second, preparing worship takes much longer. My rule of thumb is that preparing for Sunday’s sermon and liturgy is usually about an eight hour job… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Sounds intensive indeed – am guessing the technological side will get easier with time but there will be tough situations with which to deal as people are affected in various ways.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Today in Aotearoa/New Zealand is Wednesday 15 April. Having read through the comments on this thread, I do wonder whether many clergy have understood the FACT that at least some faithful laypeople have felt it necessary to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ in ways that might not meet the eucharistic theological requirements of the Official Church. When attendance at church is denied us, there are other ways of worship available to us! Jayne Ozanne, for instance, has described her own experience of using ready-to-hand bread and wine to ‘re-member’ her fellowship with the Body of Christ – in a way… Read more »

Gordo
Guest
Gordo

Yes, it was really encouraging to see on youtube the new Anglican diocese in Aotearoa New Zealand doing an online Easter eucharist for people at home. Aotearoa showing the way!

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Before retiring for the night, I re-read the posts on this thread, with discussion of things like kitchens and church buildings. Out of the blue, the first line of this hymn came into my head, asking the question where would be the right place to greet our risen Lord? It’s clear that people have very different ideas. I think this beautiful hymn puts things in perspective. 1 Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest; no, let us be your guests and with you dine; at your own table now be manifest in your own sacrament of bread and… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Something that strikes me as a little odd, is the fact that the one Church of England worship service broadcast in the UK recently was devoid of even a simple Celebration of Holy Communion – even though there were 2 priests (Mum & Dad) in the family presenting. I do understand the problems connected with the Celebration of Mass with only the priest present, but 2 priests? What they did didn’t even need one.