Thinking Anglicans

House of Bishops meeting Friday 4 September 2020

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops meeting Friday 4 September 2020
04/09/2020

A meeting of the House of Bishops took place today Friday 4 September 2020 via Zoom.

In its first meeting following the Summer break, the House heard more about the shape and structure of the various workstreams which come under the auspices of the Emerging Church initiative. These are now well established and making good progress, with several due to report at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.

Specific updates were given from the chairs of the Governance group, the Vision and Strategy group and the Transforming Effectiveness group. The House looked ahead to the detailed discussion of the Vision and Strategy workstream which will take place at a virtual meeting attended by the College of Bishops and others, led by the Archbishop of York later this month.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group updated the House regarding the progress made by churches across the country in re-opening Church buildings following the lifting of the lockdown restrictions. Bishop Sarah also reviewed the national picture of the online church services and other events which have been taking place in many hundreds of communities during the lockdown.

The current position of the Church of England with respect to the distribution of Holy Communion and the use of the Common Cup during Covid was then discussed with further reflection, discussion and work on this matter planned for future meetings.

A forward look towards Autumn and the remainder of 2020 was then given on a range of subjects including the publication of LLF resources, safeguarding matters, the Archbishop’s Commission on Racism and the Autumn Synod.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
27 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Lamming
David Lamming
15 days ago

Bearing in mind that Bishop Sarah Mullally’s written answer to Mary Durlacher’s question (Q.68) during the informal online meeting of General Synod on 11 July concluded by stating, “The House cannot authorise or encourage a practice which would be contrary to law,” it would be churlish not to welcome the paragraph in this press release that “The current position of the Church of England with respect to the distribution of Holy Communion and the use of the Common Cup during Covid was then discussed with further reflection, discussion and work on this matter planned for future meetings.” This suggests, at… Read more »

Michael
Michael
15 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

I agree, there is no urgency. Frankly, I have the strong impression that many C of E clergy do not care. Despite lobbying from you and others, the hierarchy is not listening. Communion in one kind for the laity is here to stay for many more months, maybe years, while clergy, of course, will have communion in both kinds. How they can justify being so selfish and anti-Gospel and anti centuries of practice is beyond me. Like the bishop of Truro, they seem to be making it up as they go along and hope not to be challenged.

David Lamming
David Lamming
15 days ago

Further to my post a few minutes ago, this is the text of my letter to the Church Times, published on 4 September 2020 (page 10) under the headline “Eucharistic Theology and Practice’: Sir, — Publication of the six barristers’ Opinion (News, 28 August), challenging the answer given at the online July meeting of that General Synod that the use of individual cups to distribute the consecrated wine at holy communion is unlawful, is timely. Since there is no end in sight to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the House of Bishops must surely now give urgent consideration to Mary Durlacher’s… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
15 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Anecdote alert.  From time to time back in the day I celebrated midweek HC at a church in vacancy. The first time I went the warden said “we need you to consecrate bread and wine for reservation”. Off I went in search of the aumbry key. Upon opening it I could see no sign of a container for consecrated wine. Back I went to the warden to report said absence. “Oh, we’ve never bothered with that. We just consecrate a whole bottle and put that in the little cupboard.It fits, just, at an angle.” And another. Picture the scene at… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
15 days ago

Dear Stanley, As one of the anglican students in Rome (79/80) I had the good fortune to attend a seminar course on The Eucharist in Reformation Controversy and Ecumenical Convergence led by Jared Wicks SJ an international Luther scholar. A Lutheran pastor was also part of the group. I gave a presentation on Anglican eucharistic thought bringing in Cranmer, BCP, Hooker and his Caroline successors, Tractarians and Wm Temple plus the tensions ARCIC threw up. It was one of the best courses I ever did. When hauled out of retirement to do POT I found everyone v vague about sacramental… Read more »

Ian
Ian
15 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

I was told by a fellow student who went on to become an Anglican priest “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something.”

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
15 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Mary Durlacher’s question to the House of Bishops concerning the use of individual cups specified “while the current constraints remain”. Call me cynical, but does anyone seriously believe that those churches which favour such a manifestly un-Anglican practice will revert to the common cup once those constraints are over?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
15 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

I agree Alan. I suspect the bishops know that, hence the cautious response. We have lived with liturgical diversity for a long time but there was an overlap in what parishes did with the BCP/hymns/ canticles/robes etc… a family resemblance/an ethos. Suppose the cathedrals still retain it but in parishes it’s hit and miss now.

Michael
Michael
14 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

‘once those constraints are over’ I do not believe they will be. Maybe I am also cynical, and I do not understand the role or purpose of the House of Bishops, but it seems to me that they are (ab)using the current situation to make fundamental changes to centuries of theology and practice without either scrutiny or challenge. The current rotten situation began with Archbishop Welby’s edict in March forbidding clergy from entering their churches. And so it continues. Why is it left to vocal laymen like David Lamming to make objections? If you are concerned about manifestly un-Anglican practice,… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
14 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Michael, I agree that the instruction/guidance on clergy entering their churches was mistaken. But I am less pessimistic now than you appear to be. Once we have an effective vaccine there will no longer be any grounds for withholding the common cup (although dipping is likely to be off limits). Meanwhile more and more churches are reopening for the Eucharist, hopefully with communicants being assured that – while Communion in both kinds is the norm – in receiving in one kind the full blessing of the presence of Christ is still received.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
14 days ago

On HC, we are going to give this issue proper and considered theological reflection. Not long grass at all, but also not just cursory discussion followed by a rushed conclusion. Some on TA might applaud that! Given the range of theological understandings that are explicit and implicit in our approach to the common cup, it would be foolish to try to resolve the underlying questions during the COVID crisis. Hygiene questions cloud the discussion of the principle, as do cultural assumptions.

Michael
Michael
14 days ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

‘during the Covid crisis’ If that lasts well into next year then that is ‘long grass’. You do not understand the urgency of resolving this matter. For four months only clergy received communion privately at home. You really do not have any understanding of how painful it is to go without regular communion, in my case 26 Sundays and counting. Currently only clergy are receiving bread and wine. Again you have no idea why that offends so many devout Anglicans. I had a bet with an elderly priest this morning that communion in one kind for the laity has now… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
14 days ago
Reply to  Michael

I have received communion only once since March, so we’re in the same boat. Please don’t tell me that I have no idea of the deprivation. The sacrament is, as I understand it, a community meal (though I recognise that some clergy receive privately at home – I would not do so). The point is that there are two issues. One is a matter of disease prevention and non-transmission of COVID, which prevents us from sharing the wine by whatever mechanism – that’s the medical and disease control advice we have received. The other issue is whether the CofE could… Read more »

Caelius Spinator
Caelius Spinator
13 days ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

It’s very nice when the full landscape of the debate on a thread is finally being presented by a bishop, who do seem to get too much stick around here for being theologically ignorant management consultants. I, too, recently received in one kind for the first time since March. I recognised the situation as contrary to order, not doctrine. For those who might invoke the Sacrament Act of 1547 or contend about the opinions of barristers, I will offer this opinion of the Roman legal writer Pomponius recorded in Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 3 of Justinian’s Digest concerning the… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
13 days ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Since AIDS the practice of the communicant retaining the host and then dipping has become widespread. Until I retired I hadnt realised how widespread it now is. Alas I can’t see that practice can be eradicated now. When I was confirmed in 1962 we were taught quite definitely to receive the host with left hand supporting right and to carry it both hands together to your mouth. And to wait until the next person had received before leaving the rail. That was almost universal practice apart from the relatively few AC churches where it was placed on the tongue. A… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
13 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Though I can’t lay my hands on it, there is microbiological evidence that dipping by the communicant poses far more of a risk than dipping by the celebrant. Communicants’ fingers have up to that moment touched furniture, books, leaflets, hair, clothes, other people, and doubtless scratched skin and spots on faces and other anatomical appendages, enabling detritus and bugs from all this to drop into the wine. At least the celebrant’s hands were cleansed at the offertory. Being selfish, what bothers me is not the possibility of infecting communicants, but that of infecting me, the celebrant, since I have to… Read more »

John
John
13 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Interesting difference between here (Canada) and where you are: intinction has been forbidden in most if not all dioceses here for many years…in Ontario since the SARS outbreak ten years ago, which hit hard in this province, but pretty generally in most of the country. As a communion assistant for several decades, what you describe as the way you were taught (as was I) is still the custom here. In many places, wafers are not used, but baked bread is — usually baked for the purpose — or in some cases, pita. Neither works well if dipped.

ACI
ACI
13 days ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

There has of course been a discussion–one of the more illuminating ones here at TA–whether the celebration of the Eucharist is a ‘bounden duty and service’ in obedience to the Lord’s command, directed to God, in remembrance of the sacrifice of his Son; or whether the emphasis is on our consumption (corporately or otherwise), now hindered by a pandemic. I for one find the first of these more primary, or at least one that has been covered up by the second in recent times, and so now resurfaces with proper significance. It is also worth reflecting on things people do… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
12 days ago
Reply to  ACI

Will we ever get it into our heads that Eucharist is first and foremost something we do for God and his world, not just something we get? Every Eucharist – even when the parish priest presided alone during Lockdown – was and is offered not only for those virtually or physically present but that “all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins and all other benefits of his passion”. It is not primarily about the priest – anymore than the layperson – making his or her Communion.  Sadly our normal (pre-Covid) practice undermines the corporate nature of the… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
12 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

I’m pleased to see you and ACI above have written this Allan. It is a dimension that has been neglected in the discussion, regrettably so as it touches on the raison d’etre of the holy common people of God as Gregory Dix put it in the wonderful conclusion to the Shape of the Liturgy.

ACI
ACI
12 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

Agreed. We proclaim the Lord’s death until his coming again.

Michael
Michael
12 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

In that case there is no need for anyone to be present, other than the celebrant. Now the Church is going into another lockdown, clergy can go back to celebrating alone at home (actually some have yet to reopen their churches). No need to bother about pesky laity and their spiritual needs. According to your argument, we are irrelevant. As Stanley Monkhouse said elsewhere in this thread, there will only be a few cathedrals left, the great unwashed (like me) will have to find alternatives or find something else to do on a Sunday. What a legacy!

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
11 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Michael, you say “the Church is going into another lockdown.” Where? Round here it is opening up. And as for “pesky laity and their spiritual needs”, you’ll have to number me among them. As a retired priest with Permission to Officiate I’ve had to be content with spiritual Communion for months. A double loss as I’ve also been unable to fulfil the ordination mandate.

Michael
Michael
10 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

See Canon Arguile’s letter in the Church Times today. On his recent holiday he visited a number of churches where public worship has not resumed. He makes the obvious conclusion that if churches remain locked, attendance will plummet. Why are they still locked? Archbishop Welby was very quick in forbidding clergy from entering their churches. Six months later many lay people like me are deeply frustrated (like an anonymous letter writer, also in today’s Church Times) at what is being withheld from us. Why should we be fobbed off with totally inadequate spiritual communion? Until this week, I had pencilled… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
9 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Michael, we’re on the same page here (although I wish you could rejoice with me that your Vicar has presided at nearly 200 Eucharists “for the world and its salvation”).
+Justin’s instruction/guidance to clergy not to enter their churches during lockdown was a serious error of judgment – seemingly justified by the simplistic mantra “the church is people not buildings.” And perhaps some incumbents who are wed to this Noddy and Big Ears ecclesiology see no great urgency in opening up.

Will Richards
Will Richards
12 days ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

It’s very good to hear this from Bishop Pete. It would be equally reassuring to know that there will be significant theologians in the room for this discussion – and not just those bishops who consider themselves ‘theologians.’ The need for a broad spread of theological insights, outwith the increasingly monochrome complexion of the House, calls for the likes of McGrath, O’Donovan, G. Ward, Strawbridge, Coakley, Maltby and Oliver at the very least.

Michael
Michael
11 days ago
Reply to  Will Richards

I agree. How are they selected?

27
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x