Saturday, March 24, 2012

Note on Covenant ... note on next ABC

The Lead this morning gives an example of a matter which the Covenant is geared up to assist the Communion in working out the ongoing meaning of being Anglican. A motion is being proposed for the General Convention to consider,

"The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon is forwarding an Open Table resolution to General Convention that would change the rubrics and practice of The Book of Common Prayer to invite all to Holy Communion, "regardless of age, denomination or baptism.”

Adopted unanimously by delegates to the 2010 Diocesan Convention, the resolution recently was ratified by Diocesan Councl for submission to General Convention. It would delete from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church Canon 1.17.7, which says "No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this church.""
Now "communion without baptism" is practised thereabouts and hereabouts in the Anglican world, but, as far as I am aware, no formal Anglican canon anywhere endorses or legalises this practice. Were the GC to agree to the resolution it would be a change or innovation to millennia old Christian practice, received and continued by the Reformed Church of England. It would also be a change which could reasonably be considered as affecting the definition of Anglicanism because it involves our understanding of sacramental ministry. One related concern would be whether it impinged on our ongoing ecumenical conversations.
In short: here is a change which looks like an internal matter for a member church but can reasonably be raised as an external matter for all member churches to consider. In terms of the Covenant and Section 4, it is a matter for consideration by the process set out there.
The next Archbishop of Canterbury
With H/T to Ron Smith, I notice that the Church Times (no less!) has put out an article in the public domain about the bishops it considers to be "a few to watch." A few posts ago I said I was watching out for my own "Dark Horse" candidate to be named on such a list. Well, he is on it. But I shall keep my counsel for a bit longer ...

UPDATE: CEN has its own version of candidates to ponder, in which my "Dark Horse" does not appear, but Ron Smith's preferred candidate does appear!


Father Ron Smith said...

Oh, go one Peter. Don't be such a tease. You know jolly well, you're just dying to reveal your candidate. I've shown you mine, show us yours!

Peter Carrell said...

Let's see if the CEN publishes a list!

Father Ron Smith said...

Gosh! Tom Wright would be a disaster!

Anonymous said...

Justin Welby it is then!

And good news down under for those who want to turn left without hindrance - no more giving way to the Wright!

+Martin of (Melas) Hippos [in partibus infidelium]

Fr. Jonathan said...

I wouldn't worry too much about this resolution just yet. Given the energy around innovation on same sex blessing, I think the bishops will be cautious to rock more than one boat at the same time. But this will become a matter down the road and the covenant really could have helped us sort it.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Peter, I wouldn't think it likely that the proposal for CWOB will be adopted at our General Convenation. Support for it is thin but vocal.

This is a canonical change, and TBTG I am serving on the Canons committee this year. I'm a staunch defender of the traditional sacramental sequence.

liturgy said...

Fr Ron,
Peter just did tell you.
You need to revise your set theory.
With a "t" not an "x" ;-)



Anonymous said...

While I sometimes disagree with aspects of his theology (his understanding of justification is deficient), and his political views, nevertheless Tom Wright is clearly the only man for the job. None of the other possible candidates inspire much confidence, and a liberal would be a true disaster. Only a strong Evangelical who is prepared to take an uncompromising stand on the authority of Scripture is capable of leading the Church forward.

Father Ron Smith said...

It would, indeed, be odd for 'Open Communion' to be offered intentionally to the unbaptized. It would be like offering solid food to an infant before it had been weaned from its mother.

On the other hand, if people were to appear at a service of Eucharist, not knowing the process of Christian Formation but coming to the Communion rail holding out their hands to receive; what priest would refuse them?

However, any caring Church would ensure that all congregants were aware of the need for Baptism; as the occasion of the Anointing by the Holy Spirit for participation in the Body of Christ as a member.

Simon said...

There's a weekly challenge for those ministering in some of our evangelical parishes where we have whole families who have transferred from a Baptist or Pentecostal church and have not had their children baptised.
Their (often unquestioning) expectation is that their children can receive the sacrament in spite of the general understanding (re-stated gently by the vicar) that all *baptised* members of God's church are welcome at communion.
Come to think of it, I once gave communion to a Shi-ite Muslim who'd come to Midnight Mass with his Christian friend from the university chaplaincy. Should I have been up before the Bishop?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Simon,
I think many Anglican priests in such situations distinguish between clarity on sacramental theology (sum: baptism then eucharist) and charity at the communion rails (sum: do not make a fuss there).

I would think that the bishop would have every reason to be concerned where he or she discovered that one of her or his licensed clergy was routinely ignoring opportunities to teach clearly on sacramental theology in order to underpin the general sacramental order of life in the parish. It does not sound like you are one needing such episcopal concern.

Something I am aware of (speaking of my own experience) is that my desire to see growth in congregational numbers trumps my energy in gently reminding from time to time that people have joined an 'Anglican' church and not a church where people may pursue the sacramental theology they have inherited from their past experience of church.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks for that Peter. Then at least, you will not be following the diocese of Sydney in encouraging the laity to preside at the Eucharist. That's good to know.

It is reassuring that theological educators are careful to follow diocesan guidelines when teaching The Faith. That's what I call true 'orthodoxy' - a word that is sometimes carelessly bandied about by some commenters on this (and other GAFCON-friendly)site(s).

Anonymous said...

" a word that is sometimes carelessly bandied about by some commenters on this (and other GAFCON-friendly)site(s)."

Nonsense. We take great care in using the term.

Liberalism is not "true orthodoxy".