Comments: GS: other business Sunday afternoon

My view on Methodist-Anglican practices and differences is not one to get hung up on ministry and elements' disposal. I've had local discussion about this, where there are occasional joint gatherings. I prefer the symbolism of the common cup, the idea of actual wine as transforming, and indeed consuming everything, but these are symbolisms. The use of grape juice then is still a natural product and work of human hands, different glasses can represent difference and invidivuality, and actually I do prefer pieces of bread which are still broken (though they don't make much of a breaking sound). As for bishops and all of that, well Chairs of Districts can count like bishops.

The issue for me on a eucharist is just this: has an event taken place which has drawn people in with their minds and bodies. If yes, then they can be done by anyone who is accepted locally and where the event creates some focus of identity.

I say this because I wrote and presided in one in the Hull Unitarian Church, after some discussion, and made an alteration to use water instead, and also changed the approach knowing the objections many have to a practice many have rejected, though not all by far. In that context, I wanted to get something more body-involving than the flower communion that started in Czechoslovakia to include the Jews hidden from Nazis, interesting though it can be. In the end my own evaluation of my service was that it did not work, and was not a focus for unity. The experiment had its outcome.

Not being huing up on these sort of things, I cannot see why Methodists and Anglicans cannot get closer together, or indeed merge, finding ways to recognise and preserve some cultural practices around the eucharist, perhaps biases of practice dependent on local practices and the buildings used, but not wholly.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:15pm BST

"The use of grape juice then is still a natural product and work of human hands, different glasses can represent difference and invidivuality"

They also enable my alcoholic father and my immunocompromised daughter to take Communion.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:47pm BST

The Coptic Church in Egypt uses "real bread" (well, OK, a special loaf baked by the priest) and unfermented grape juice (probably a concession to the sensibilities of the Muslim majority) -- they are still regarded as a valid ecclesial community in the orthodox & catholic tradition (we're not even supposed to call them Eutychian heretics any more)

It seems to me that if the Methodists & CofE want to draw closer together, generous hearts are all that is required (one might say the same of the WWAC...)

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:15pm BST

It's not my business to ask why your daughter is immunocompromised, and I'm certainly not in any way being critical of her, but is it really necessary for her to avoid the common cup? She may be depriving herself unnecessarily. I know of one immunocompromised priest who regularly consumes the Elements as part of the ablutions, after everyone else has communicated. This is twice a Sunday and during the week. He has been doing so for years and never had a problem, despite the immunocompromise. Not surprisingly, he has little patience with the idea of the common cup as a source of contagion. Of course, "better safe than sorry" is a perfectly reasonable attitude for your daughter to have under the circumstances.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:26pm BST

Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists are all pretty much one church now. The Roman Catholic church has always stressed its unity, but I think we are producing a large communion of churches which has the same kind of unity as the early church--autonomy but connection. I think we should somehow proclaim our unity so that this Anglican/Methodist/Lutheran continuum is seen as a branch of Christianity, like the Orthodox or Roman Catholic.

Posted by James at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:37pm BST

James on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:37pm BST

That is an interesting concept which I, for one, certainly welcome -- but note that it is the "broad" or welcoming Anglicans & Methodists & Lutherans who welcome inter-communion with each other -- whereas there are "narrow" Lutherans who are not in communion with each other & Wesleyan groups at odds & of course the World Wide Anglican "Communion" ended when certain Global South primates refused to take "Communion" with each other.
(see "generous heart" comment above)

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:49pm BST

my daughter has leukaemia and is very often neutropenic. During times when even a blister on her foot means a trip to A & E and possibly admission for an antibiotic drip, I'm afraid it's me rather than her who doesn't want to take the risk.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:54pm BST

Fair enough, Erika, and you're likely being far more reasonable than me under the circumstances. Practicality should not take a second place to my wild eyed idealism.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 5:30pm BST

Grape juice - well, I would miss the symbolism. But why in the name of Wesley did I have to endure (about 18 years ago) a united eucharist at which the non-alcoholic wine contained a list of ingredients ("water, sugar, flavour, colouring, anti-oxidant") which made it a positive health hazard and seemed to hail from a chemical works on the south bank of the Tees?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 8:00pm BST

Well, more specifically--the Episcopalians, the Church of England, the ELCA, the United Methodists and the Methodists of Canada and England, and the Old Catholics are all, roughly, in communion with each other. It seems just a matter of time until the worldwide branches of all these bodies form covenants with each other. I think it would have about 200 million--which would make us second after the Roman Catholics. We could call the new branch of Christianity "Churches With Some Semblance of Bishops."

Posted by James at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 10:14pm BST

The ecumenism that people welcome is along the lines of New Reformation: the old arguments that made Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, are just dying away. What is alive is the liberal Methodist, a traditionalist Methodist, an evangelical Methodist. There is a huge effort to keep the Anglican Communion together, but it might be right for it to split along present lines and find ecumenism with all these others that much easier - on both sides of the fence. It is just that institutions pay bills, attract loyalties to internal cultures, cohere around buildings and personalities. The stronger these loyalties, the bigger the bang when the split happens.

The point I bang on about the Covenant is that it will just lead to a bigger bang later. If the institution loosened up a bit, then this old institution will be a shell around which real alliances and divisions will work slowly and with less pressure over a longer period of time, but only because more comfortable means less pressure. The answer from on-high to today's tensions is to tense up the system. It won't work. Producing an up to date text is something to disagree over, another means of saying no for the usual reasons from each party.

Loosen up and the ecumenical will be all the easier too. Otherwise the bang means Methodists are going to wonder which Anglicans to join, and may themselves catch the same party poison.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 1:14am BST

"Grape juice - well, I would miss the symbolism"

Pure grape juice. It's still fruit of the vine and linked to all the wine imagery in Scripture.

I agree, the list of ingredients in non-alcoholic wine is terrible!

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 8:07am BST

Even if the Episcopal Church breaks off with the Anglican Communion, we are still in communion with the ELCA and on our way to communion with the United Methodists, which means we are still connected to the world. Maybe we should define ourselves as part of the Lutheran continuum rather than the Anglican continuum, sort of like the Swedish Lutherans. Or maybe we should be Methodists-with-Real-Bishops. :) We don't have to try to keep forcing ourselves into the Anglican Communion when there are other worldwide communions into which we might be better suited.

Posted by James at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 9:14am BST

One of my oldest friends was married in a Baptist church where they used grape juice in Communion - pretty sure it was Welch's (i.e. processed, corn syrup and from concentrate). It was one of the most Spirit filled moments I've been a part of.

The condition of the heart has more to do with the nature of worship than the specific attributes of the elements. This isn't to say the elements don't matter and shouldn't be held in high regard, but we only care about the elements because of what they represent - the Body and Blood of Christ.

P.S. - Ford, I'm still working out the idea of Real Presence, thus use of "represent" instead of "are."

Posted by Chris at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 3:01pm BST

James on Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 9:14am BST --

I think such a proposal would be to miss the numbers of Anglicans who actually prefer TEC to ++Abuja -- I would rather see us expelled for witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus than walk away from those in the Communion who need our support.

Generous hearts is the key -- our good relations with Lutherans & Methodists & Old Catholics are based on generous hearts all 'round.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 3:17pm BST

The only reason that ECUSA is on its way to communion is that the laity of the UMC is woefully uninformed about the theological innovations of the ECUSA with respect to homosexuality. According to the UMC Book of Discipline, homosexuality is incompatible with Christian living. Once this path to communion is recognized as a backdoor attempt by UMC liberals to bring homosexual acceptance into the UMC it will be squashed, God willing.

Posted by jth at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 3:22pm BST

So the United Methodist Church has liberals too. So perhaps there is to be change there. And change elsewhere. These are the contemporary meaningful differences, whereas the denominations as was are less meaningful now as Christian divisions.

What made Church of England ecumenism with (Protestant) others more possible was the marginalisation of its traditonalist Anglo-Catholics. What makes ecumenism more possible is softing out the ideological differences. It's like sorting the deck of cards. Unless the cards are spread out along the table so that the sorting is more diverse.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 11 July 2007 at 1:20am BST

"P.S. - Ford, I'm still working out the idea of Real Presence, thus use of "represent" instead of "are.""

This gives me a bit of a smile, Chris. All the same, I'm a bit chastened that I have become so predictable:-)

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 11 July 2007 at 12:01pm BST


There's no need to be chastened. I just didn't want to come across as stomping on Anglo-Catholic doctrine.

Posted by Chris at Wednesday, 11 July 2007 at 4:51pm BST

A problem with the Internet is that we have no real expression of tone of voice, much less facial expression. Thus, what might in reality be a bit of sarcasm for effect, or even self deprecating humour, can get taken as far more than it actually is. I have gotten into this on many occasions. That was the spirit of my post, and, at times, is the spirit of my jumping on those whose doctrine isn't terribly Catholic in things sacramental. It's what in my part of the world gets called "devilment", a bit of ever so slightly wicked fun. Actually, that's how I took your post, kind of a glance over the shoulder saying "and I know what you're going to say, so take that!", and I took no offence at it, indeed, I had a bit of a chuckle. No big deal, but if I've become so predictable in this, then I'd better change my tack a bit, I think. Not that I'm likely to break the habit!

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 12 July 2007 at 1:33pm BST


No worries. The original comment was meant as a good natured comment as well.

Have a good day, brother.

Posted by Chris at Thursday, 12 July 2007 at 4:06pm BST
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