Lay ministers approved to preside at eucharist by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Convention.

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It has been the season for national church conferences, conventions and synods the world over. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) held their church-wide assembly in Edmonton Alberta JUL 9 – 12. During the convention, the ELCIC re-elected its National Bishop, the Revd Susan Johnson, to a 3rd four-year term. The convention also approved by 95% a motion to allow a lay person to be appointed to preside at communion.

In an article by Diana Swift in the Anglican Church of Canada’s magazine, the Anglican Journal, Ms Swift interviewed Bishop Johnson regarding the motion for lay eucharistic ministers. Bishop Johnson was very explicit in the interview that the ELCIC had undertaken the decision to authorize lay people to preach the word and preside at communion very carefully. That the situation whereby someone would be authorized to preside as a layperson would happen following very specific guidelines for the period of one year. The ELCIC has been so careful, because they do not wish to harm the full-communion relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada, which mirrors the full-communion relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Bishop Johnson said that a lot of checks & balances were written into the policy. Also;

  • The lay minister will work under the supervision of a mentoring pastor
  • They are non-stipendiary
  • They cannot wear clerical dress or vestments
  • They cannot preside at weddings, funerals or baptisms
  • They may not offer pastoral care, but will refer those needing counseling to their mentoring pastor

The ELCIC has a need for the policy because of a lack of clergy for Lutheran groups in remote locations. The Faith, Order and Doctrine Committee of the ELCIC began studying the situation in 2012. Only groups that have no other option available; multi-point parishes, itinerant ministers or clergy-sharing with an ELCIC ecumenical partner; the Anglican Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada or the United Church of Canada, will be considered for approval for a lay presider.

The policy which was passed at the ELCIC National Convention can be amended by the National Church Council between National Conventions as needed. Two members of the Anglican Church of Canada have been tasked with writing a statement on what the policy will mean for their church.

Image from restfulincrease.org

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45 Responses to "Lay ministers approved to preside at eucharist by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Convention."
  1. For Anglican's it makes sense to use Deacons to offer the blessed sacrament in a so-called "Deacons Mass." Most Bishops have failed to recognize the need for this type of service in parishes that are remote or cannot support a priest. Lay presiders have no place in an Anglican Church (my opinion!).

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    • Jim,
      In the Anglican Church of Canada, most rural dioceses have made provision for regular Sunday distribution of the Sacrament by lay persons, by license from the bishop. Usually this is in parishes, like the Lutheran rule is intended to address, where they cannot support ordained ministry, and are too far from neighboring parishes for shared ministry.

      In those Anglican parishes, the lay reader with authorization to distribute communion is usually also authorized to baptize, conduct funerals, and sometimes to marry.

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  2. The distinctions the Lutherans are drawing make no sense to me. Sacramentally, a layperson can baptize if there are no clergy available. Marriage is a sacrament that the clergy confer on one another, with the priest really there only to bless their self-giving. Funerals are not a sacrament at all.

    In fact, Eucharist is the ONLY sacrament for which lay presidency has never been accepted.

    I value our relationship with the Lutherans, but it seems to me they've got it exactly backward.

    Deborah - please follow our policy of using your first & last name to have future comments approved for posting. - ed

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  3. This is a failure to recognize that ordination gives the authority to represent the Church as a whole in praying the Eucharistic Prayer. If a lay person is authorized to do that, he/she is in fact made an ordained person even though ordination formularies and actions have not been followed. Thus, the meaning of ordination is confused and the ministry of the whole church through baptism is distorted.

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  4. I appreciate the fact that the ELCIC's resolution would lead to discomfort and confusion among the clergy. As a lay person, I feel a lot less perturbed, perhaps because I might benefit from this change, someday.

    As I see it, the concern boils down to a reluctance to share the prerogatives of Holy Orders with the non-ordained and the possible ensuing role confusions. I believe these are legitimate concerns.

    However, in the vast expanses of the Canadian continent, it may be that necessity has borne invention. If we place the Canadian situation into some kind of historical context, I believe that the early Church ---prior to 300 of the CE---chose Elders (or Overseers or Pastors) to preside over the Holy Supper; there were no priests, deacons or bishops at that time and even if there were, how could they possibly minister to this rapidly expanding church. My point being that the priestly prerogatives of celebrating the Eucharist came only after their were such defined roles as 'the priestly order' and these priests were plentiful enough to serve a greater population. Before that, Christian communities fed themselves.

    Even now, there are exceptions in which lay persons---Lay Eucharistic Ministers---take communion to homes and hospitals throughout the world. I believe Canada is responding to what is probably, a long unmet need.

    If we are, indeed, on the cusp of re-imagining our Church and Christianity for the 21st century, I think we owe it to ourselves think outside the box. Many Protestant churches use the concept of "Elder" to good effect. Perhaps it's time to cultivate and formalize a 5th order of Christian servant: bishop, priest, deacon, lay and elder. The 5th order would do no violence to the existing orders, but would complement them in a time of need.

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    • Those "overseers" would be what we know call bishops: "elders" is another translation of "priest." It is true that the delegation of Eucharistic celebration to the latter was a result of the church's growth, but even today presbyters preside on behalf of the bishop, as his or her "vicar" at the altar. None of this provides a precedent for what is being done here (as opposed to lay distribution, which as you note is nothing new).

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      • I wouldn't disagree with your analysis, Geoff. But what I would say that there may be room now, after two-thousand years, for a re-imagining. In communities within reach---enough priests and bishops to regularly celebrate the Eucharist. In places on the margins---not enough to go around and so the clerics are stretched or we can offer our congregants alternate sites or...Morning Prayer. Maybe this isn't a problem in TEC; I don't know.

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      • I don't know the situation in the US either; I'm a Canadian Anglican.

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  5. A number of years ago, while on vacation in ( the diocese) of Montreal, I attended worship at a local (English language) parish. The service was most interesting, i.e. morning prayer conducted by a licensed lay reader, with the distribution of holy communion from the reserved sacrament. Frankly, I don't see a huge practical difference between that and the ELCIC decision. Indeed, I don't see a great practical difference between the ELCIC policy and the distribution of Communion by lay Eucharistic ministers in special situations.

    These are practical arrangements to provide the sacrament to communities that otherwise may have limited options. It may be that having a lay person preside is more within the ELCIC's comfort zone than is use of reserved sacrament.

    I'm more comfortable with this option that the practice in my diocese of ordaining a legion of non stipendiary priests complete with clerical garb and roles that often end up exceeding their training.

    The original article from The Journal says:
    "The new lay ministers will work under the close supervision of a mentoring pastor and will be non-stipendiary. They cannot preside at weddings, funerals or baptisms and may not wear clerical garb or vestments, although they are permitted to don albs when preaching or presiding at communion. The lay ministers will not be addressed as pastor or any other clerical title reserved for ordained clergy. Nor can they offer pastoral care but must refer individuals in need of counselling to the ordained pastors who mentor the lay ministers themselves. "

    I would happily receive Communion in an ELCIC community under the circumstances described. It's unlikely to unhinge our full communion arrangement.

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    • Rod: You make eminent sense. Didn't know you could do that. Thank you.

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      • @ Philip Spivey, "Rod: You make eminent sense. Didn’t know you could do that."

        Congrats on your break through! You keep working on that.

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    • Rod: I didn't have to work so hard really; Gary Paul Gilbert has done the work for me.

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  6. I'm not crazy about it (that's the Anglo-Catholic in me), but I certainly wouldn't break communion over it, either.

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  7. As Rod Gillis points out, the Evangelical Lutheran Church took great care before authorizing nonordained people to preside at the eucharist. The situation is where rural congregations have been unable to share ministers or even find clergy from denominations with which they are in full communion. Serving isolated rural congregations ought to take precedence over trying to please the Anglicans. In any case, it is a decision for Canadian Lutherans to make. Episcopalians are not happy when Rome tells us that we are deficient in regards to Roman standards.

    The broader context is that the liturgical renewal movement showed baptism, rather than ordination, is the primary sacrament. There are different orders, but they all flow from baptism and are no longer ordered hiearchically in the 79 Prayer Book. The church is the whole people of God and liturgy is the work of the people. That the new Prayer Book makes the eucharist the primary service on Sundays has opened a problem in an era of shrinking congrgations. Whereas before Morning Prayer/Matins could be said, now the eucharist is preferred. Under certain restricted conditions, communion could be from the reserved sacrament, as in the Roman Church, where so-called priestless Masses have become common, especially in the Netherlands, but, done frequently, that would break the wholeness of the liturgical act. A service of the Word followed by the distribution of communion is not quite the eucharist.

    No satisfactory answer has been found for small, struggling congregations. Sending in supply priests on a regular basis creates the impression that a congregation without a priest is deficient and that the nonordained are simply there to be serviced. Using deacons to distribute communion makes it seem the vocation of the diaconate is simply to substitute for priests, whereas it is to be out in the world. Shutting parishes and combining them cuts off connections to neighborhoods.

    Furthermore, the ordained priesthood is more than consecrating bread and wine. In that respect, they substitute for the bishop.

    The problem will not go away and each denomination will have to find its way as best it can.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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  8. The Church of South India grappled with this issue in the late 1940s, as a number of the congregations entering the denomination had lay presidency and believed in the priesthood of all believers. Lay presidency was canonically allowed for a number of years, and diaconal presidency is, I believe still allowed. Certainly in the States both are common.

    Personally, I don't find the theology behind prohibiting lay presidency all that convincing. In fact I see it as contradictory to the New Testament message empowering all believers. The only argument that does make sense to me (made by Leslie Newbigin) is that it is part of rule of order that discourages schism

    But I understand it as a marketing ploy to keep the Catholics from getting too upset...

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  9. The context and nuances of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada decision can be gleaned from the ELCIC webpage, linked below.

    http://elcic.ca/In-Convention/2015-Edmonton/Saturday.cfm#LayMinistry

    The Primate of The Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, preached at the ELCIC Convention closing liturgy. He gave a very positive reflection on the work of the Convention. See link below also from the ELCIC website.

    http://www.elcic.ca/news.cfm?article=424

    So, onward and upward!

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  10. Thank you, Rod Gillis! I also found a 36-page study guide on sacrament and ministry which ELCIC used in its congregations.

    http://elcic.ca/faithorderdoctrine/documents/FOD-May2014.pdf or http://preview.tinyurl.com/nz8qyhk

    Pages 26 on deal specifically with this issue of lay presidency. Again the context for the Lutherans is that more congregations have been told that the eucharist should be celebrated every week, thus creating the problem of availability.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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    • Gary Paul Gilbert, thanks for this link. I was not aware of this, and after a quick scan of the same, look forward to reading it in detail.

      Lutherans and Anglicans have a long history together here in Nova Scotia. When Anglican Lutheran dialogue first got underway, our current Primate was a parish priest here at that time. As a parish priest, and then bishop, and eventually Primate, his contribution to Anglican Lutheran relationships, including the achievement of full communion, has been huge.

      Anglicans will no doubt attempt to trouble shoot the problem of providing Eucharist to small and often isolated congregations by drawing on our own framework and traditions. Lay presidency as outlined by ELCIC is their solution, and I'm not troubled by them doing so. I've always enjoyed attending ELCIC services. Should I find myself a visitor in an ELCIC congregation under those circumstances, I would be very comfortable receiving Communion.

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      • Assuming of course that what you would be receiving is indeed Holy Communion.

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      • I like the epiclesis that I have heard often in the Eucharist at Metropolitan Community Churches, which like TEC, celebrates an open communion welcoming all baptized Christians;

        "Bless this bread & cup by your Holy Spirit that they may be for each of us, a perfect and holy communion."

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  11. Thank you, Rod Gillis, for more background on the relationship between Anglicans and Lutherans in Nova Scotia. Lay presidency at the eucharist, as outlined in everything I have read in ELCIC materials, is reasonable. I don't see the Anglican solution of communion from the reserved sacrament as more satisfactory. It may be worse.

    I thought the ELCIC study guide was quite good.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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    • Are you really saying that simulating a "placebo" celebration of the Eucharist is preferable to the distribution of the Pre-Sanctified gifts?

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      • For Lutherans the sacrament happens because of the community gathered.

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  12. For small, isolated communities, why not make provision for Lutheran (or Episcopal) bishops to ordain congregational leaders as elders/presbyters (of which the term priest is an English variation)/pastors licensed to officiate locally? This would avoid corrupting apostolic authority and provide a broader based local pastorate. This is more or less what created the order of presbyters, anyway, as an extension of the bishop's sacramental authority and pastoral ministry.

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    • "This is more or less what created the order of presbyters, anyway, as an extension of the bishop’s sacramental authority and pastoral ministry."

      Or, on the other hand, did the "episcopate" evolve from a group of presbyters?

      Quite likely, neither simple ( simplistic?) explanation is completely satisfactory.

      Notice the analysis of NT evidence in this article.

      http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/brown1.asp

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  13. Paul Woodrum, Page 28 of the Study Guide I cited has already considered your suggestion of ordaining lay people, but it has not been done. They seem to have considered every possibility. I am not sure allowing the nonordained in limited circumstances to celebrate the eucharist would corrupt apostolicity. Quite the contrary! According to the Lutherans, bishops in themselves are not necessarily a guarantee of apostolicity. And with the liturgical renewal, bishops are supposed to receive their authority through baptism rather than consecration or ordination. The liturgical renewal has created all kinds of problems for both the Lutherans and Episcopalians.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

    Existing Option 7: Alternative Route for Admission to the Roster of Ordained Ministers This is an opportunity for mature individuals (normally over 40 years of age) to enter into a shorter process leading to ordination. Existing lay leaders in communities that have experienced a lengthy pastoral vacancy are invited to prepare for ordained service in congregations. Upon completion of the alternative route, the candidate would be issued a special limited call by the
    Synod to that community. To date, no one has been ordained following this route.

    Further Possibilities
    There may be a few communities in each Synod where, because of remoteness, lack of partner congregations, or special language requirements, none of the options described above is deemed to be workable. The question has been put to National Church Council whether or not the ELCIC might consider other options for providing Word and Sacrament ministry beyond those that are listed above. Specifically, two options have been suggested. One is that ELCIC synods license qualified lay people to preach and preside at communion in certain limited situations. The other is that lay
    leaders who already live in a community might, under certain circumstances, be ordained for Word and Sacrament ministry in that community. Specific qualifications and preparation for
    these two options would have to be worked out. Neither is obviously the better choice. Both have benefits and challenges, and both may have implications for our ongoing ecumenical relationships.
    Licensing Lay People for Word and Sacrament Ministry
    What is meant by licensing qualified lay people to preach and/or preside at the Eucharist (and perhaps Baptisms) in a specific ministry or context? Since the time of the Reformation, Lutherans have understood that under certain circumstances, a congregation may call a member from
    within to serve the congregation by preaching or administering the sacraments. A 20th century
    example would be the licensing of lay people to preach and preside during World War II. The
    ELCIC could clearly identify the circumstances that might necessitate licensing a lay person, and
    could specify the types of training, mentoring, oversight and support required. A community would identify one or more members within their congregation who have gifts for ministry. Our sister church, the ELCA, chooses to use licensing in certain circumstances, and limits the license
    to one-year terms. If the need for licensed ministry will be long-term, the person is linked to an Alternate Route to ordination while continuing to provide ministry in her/his community. There would be no mobility for the person who is licensed, that is, the license is limited to the identified
    ministry.

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  14. Any solution has to respect Apostolic authority, sacramental integrity, and pastoral responsibility to be within the boundaries of western Catholicism claimed by Episcopalians and Lutherans. Allowing peculiar local communities to elect and have their own leadership ordained seems to meet these criteria better than stretching baptism to embrace them. Lutherans somewhat complicate the question by tending to equate preaching with sacrifice.

    It's difficult to determine with absolute certainty which came first in all places and at all times, bishop or presbyter, but at least by the fourth century the icon of church order is the bishop in the center with his priests to his right and deacons to his left strongly suggesting, and long accepted, that apostolic authority comes through the episcopacy to the other orders including the laity upon whom we should probably resist laying additional responsibilities that lack the authority of scripture and tradition.

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  15. I want to review the ELCIC's document to note first what is meant by "lay presidency." In the last few years this has been brought up in the Diocese of Sydney, and what it has meant has been distribution of the reserved sacrament by a deacon or lay person - not what American Episcopalians understand as "presidency." So, before making too much of a statement, I would want to be sure what is functionally intended.

    My usual comment about presidency by a presbyter (priest/pastor) is that we're about "quality control." The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is, after all, an action of Christ in the Holy Spirit (that is the "efficacy" part of sacramental theology), and not a quality of the presbyter. So, there's nothing to prevent Christ being truly present in any celebration (not something I say aloud to Baptists, but part of what I hope God does for them). Having clergy appropriate to the ecclesiology of the faith community is an effort by that community to be consistent and to meet God's expectations as that community understands them. ELCIC is reflecting on how God expects the community to reflect God's presence; but their accuracy or inaccuracy doesn't hinder what God does.

    We might note, too, that Lutherans in North America don't have a diaconal order. In ELCA they have Diaconal Ministers, and there is expectation that soon the ELCA will recognize them as an ordained order. I had one working for me who was licensed by her ELCA bishop, with the consent of our Episcopal bishop, to celebrate in the (definitely Episcopal) hospital chapel. In the ELCA Constitution licensure can also be extended to lay persons in rare but appropriate circumstances - which sounds like ELCIC is doing.

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    • In the last few years this has been brought up in the Diocese of Sydney, and what it has meant has been distribution of the reserved sacrament by a deacon or lay person...

      That isn't at all what Dio Sydney has been on about for over 10 years now. A quick search of the internet produces numerous articles regarding the issue in Sydney and what they have proposed and passed at their diocesan synod multiple times is both lay and diaconal celebration and consecration of communion, not lay or diaconal distribution of the reserved sacrament.

      A 2003 paper by Archbishop Jensen himself argued that merely distributing reserved elements was insufficient and that lay and diaconal ministers should be celebrating the eucharist completely in small settings such as hospitals and homes.

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      • David, thank you. I was relying on a report several years ago from someone much closer to the scene than I am. As you've reviewed the documents, thank you.

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  16. The Lutherans can certain figure out how best to address these situations without permission from me.

    I am a little taken aback though, that under certain limited circumstances a layperson may preside at the Eucharist but a layperson can never provide pastoral care. If anything is a particularly sacerdotal function, it's presiding over the Eucharist. However I would have thought that pastoral care would be an area where laypeople could easily and fruitfully offer service.

    So that seems perplexing. Although as far as I can tell the Lutherans did not ask my opinion and do not need it.

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    • @ Kristen Filipic, totally agree that this is for the ELCIC to decide. Leaving that aside, I'm not sure about this statement, "I am a little taken aback though, that under certain limited circumstances a layperson may preside at the Eucharist but a layperson can never provide pastoral care. "

      For one thing, it all depends what is meant by pastoral care. Pastoral care requires training, with an emphasis on the notion of "care". When folks turn to someone in the church for care and counsel around complex issues that have a significant impact on one's life, then proper formation and accountability is important. A lay person could, of course, provide such pastoral support, perhaps in some cases more expertly than some clergy, but that does not obviate the need for training and licensing or some other authorization.

      One parish I served commissioned pastoral visitors. These folks under went training that included learning about boundaries, limitations, and when to refer to the parish priest.

      Such is one of my concerns about non-stipendiary priests which in our diocese operate under the mantra of " a priest is a priest". A person can be taught to celebrate the Eucharist with readiness and decency. At its essence it is leading in a form of prayer. However, that does not necessarily mean that said non-stipe is competent enough to provide religious counsel to people facing significant life changing issues. Lay pastoral associates are fine, as long as they are trained and competent. The same should be the case for ordained clergy. Above all else, do no harm. There are lots of folks who have really been messed up as the result of religious counsel by well meaning people. Which brings me back to the ELCIC proposal which indicates that lay presidents refer people seeking pastoral care to someone who is competent to provide it.

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  17. That the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada “took great care before authorizing nonordained people to preside at the Eucharist” is beside the point. In the Anglican tradition, laypeople cannot celebrate the Holy Mysteries, period. These lay celebrations are invalid from an Anglican point of view. If isolated communities feel the need to have laypeople administer the Blessed Sacrament because no ordained clergy are available, they should maintain a sufficient Reserved Sacrament at their church—validly consecrated— for those times when a priest/pastor is not available. It’s not rocket science, people.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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    • And if we are talking about folks that live in the hinterlands of Canada, hours and hours away from civilization, sometimes only accessible by boat or small aircraft, how do you propose that they do that? Have bishops/priests consecrating bread & wine specifically as reserve sacrament and shipping it to them? UPS/FedEx/DHL Eucharist service - 2nd day delivery.

      Or perhaps they could do it over the phone or by FaceTime?

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  18. I'm not sure whether our Lutheran brothers and sisters have the same view as many of us Anglicans have about the necessity of a priest for a valid eucharist, and I think we should be hesitant to pass judgment on the validity of another denomination's sacraments.

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  19. Sweet, Jesus. What a wealth of perspectives the Lord's Supper hath wrought. How many ways can the celebration of the Eucharist and the service of Communion retain its sacramental authority? Scripture, tradition and reason may point the way.

    In the meantime, the ELCIC may be tilling fertile ground.

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    • OK, Photoshoppers, start your engines! A challenge! "Deacon Drone" (I'm especially looking forward to seeing the flying dalmatic ;-D )

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  20. Are you seriously telling me that a small congregation of, say 15-25 people in the “hinterlands,” of Canada don’t have an ordained priest/pastor or bishop visit them at least once or twice a year? Even if they have to fly in? One can buy a package of 1,000 unlevened communion wafers for less than $20. During one or two visits an ordained clergyperson could consecrate enough Reserved Sacrament for an entire six months or even a year. Whatever the so-called “Sydney Anglican” neo-Puritans may claim, in the Anglican/Catholic tradition, laypeople cannot celebrate a valid Communion/Mass, period. However, laypeople, even if they are not ordained as deacons, can certainly be licensed to distribute pre-consecrated communion bread (and wine). As I said, it’s not rocket science. Of course, if one does not hold to the traditions of the Holy Catholic Church, then I guess anything is possible— including the transformation of Ritz crackers and grape juice into something “sacramental.”

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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    • Which is more convivial, a lay president embedded in the community, or passing out wafers like subway tokens after they have been "presanctified" by some distant prelate?

      Pastoral necessity is often the mother of theological development. The first female priest in The Communion was ordained to meet the exigencies of occupied China in 1944. Initially branded by the establishment as "valid but irregular", (to use old fashioned mechanistic language) it was a harbinger of what is now normative.

      Perhaps Brooklyn, and not Saskatchewan, is the real theological "hinterland". Such is what comes from living in the big town with an abundance of redundant buildings and the lots of designer Catholicism on the menu.

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      • “[P]assing out wafers like subway tokens after they have been ‘presanctified’ by some distant prelate?” You can do better than that, can’t you? Besides, they would be consecrated and Reserved at the local church, not shipped in by UPS.

        Sorry, but some “theological developments” are more worth of support than others. Mass in the vernacular? Good idea. Married clergy? Okay with me. Women priests? Fine, I have no problem. Gay clergy? Why not? Inerrant holy book, infallible bishops and lay celebration of the Holy Mysteries? Thanks, but no thanks. Besides, I’d rather have “designer Catholicism” than your designer Protestantism any day of the week.

        Kurt Hill
        From the hinterland of beautiful
        Brooklyn, NY

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      • @ Kurt, what can I say, sometimes gravitating toward the reformation pole of Christianity is the best way forward. I have no trouble being referred to as a protestant, as long as the label is not exhaustive.

        The order for ELCIC Eucharists I've attended here actually seem more similar to the Catholic mass than our updated Anglican liturgies.

        Couldn't resist reversing the metaphor about the "hinterland". I've been to Brooklyn, and my paternal uncle lived there most of his adult life. He used to say to me " you oughta live down here where the sun shines on both sides of the street." So, there ya go.

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    • I don't know how often villages and towns on the edge of the world in Canada are visited by bishops and pastors in the ELCIC. But the ELCIC knows its own situation and after a few years of prayerful consideration and study and conversation, that church has taken its Apostolic Authority in hand with the lead of the Holy Spirit to bind something on Earth different from what we Anglicans are accustomed, for their iteration of the Church of God, the Body of Christ. And we should have the respect for that process at least, no matter how much we feel differently about upholding the traditions of the Holy Catholic Church.

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  21. Thank you, Rod Gillis, for your excellent analysis of this topic! I agee that the reserved sacrament is less than ideal, especially from a catholic liturgical perspective, because it is less than the full liturgical act. Every solution to the problem has a downside. The question here was what ELCIC would do with congregations in remote areas who only draw 10 to 15 people on Sunday. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island does not face these problems. I know because my parish is in that diocese. Canadian Lutherans have the duty to minister to their people and have consulted with the Anglican Church of Canada. It does not matter if American Episcopalians agree or disagree. Canada represents a more consensus-oriented culture.

    I like your commentary on pastoral care by the nonordained. Yes, it is important to do no harm.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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    • @ Gary Paul Gilbert, agreed that use of the reserved sacrament in this context is less than ideal. Many will be aware of the long standing wide spread practice of dispensing the reserved sacrament at Eucharists when not enough bread or wine had been consecrated for those present to receive, especially at big well attended festivals like Christmas and Easter. More current liturgical "correctness" now suggests that the reserved sacrament should be used primarily to communicate the sick and the shut-in who cannot be present at that liturgy. (Shut-ins ought to be communicated at Easter from the Easter table, and not from the Ash Wednesday table, for example.)

      If the celebrant runs short at a Eucharist then he/she should consecrate more, rather than use what is in the tabernacle/aumbry. In fact, the rubrics in the Canadian Eucharist explicitly state, " Communion should be given at each celebration of the eucharist from bread and wine consecrated at that liturgy." ( BAS p. 184).

      A complicating factor in this issue is the size and viability of the communities the ELCIC is speaking about. It's the remote location coupled with small size and lack of financial resources to fund any kind of resident stipendiary ministry.

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