My dear friends
Today at 08:00 I received the news that we have been expecting for a couple of weeks. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued updated guidance in relation to public worship and the activities that take place in church. I will be implementing the 'guidance' in full, with immediate effect, beginning at the midweek Eucharist today.
In order to protect the most vulnerable in society the following measures will apply until further notice:
- Communion will be administered in one kind only to all communicants i.e. the consecrated wafer/host, with the priest alone receiving the consecrated wine;
- Handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace will be suspended;
- Direct physical contact as part of a blessing or 'laying on of hands'.will not take place.
Please be assured that from the beginning of the epidemic this parish has taken clear and decisive action to protect and maintain the health of those attending church and wishing to take part in the sacramental life of Christ. We will continue to do this and I would ask for your support and cooperation in all these 'direct contact' activities. At this stage I have not received guidance on the use of water stoops, baptismal fonts and the use of multiple and common use printed material (e.g. hymn books); I believe from a meeting with Fr Michael yesterday the Roman Catholic Church has expended suspension to these areas. The Church of England has not, but I will seek clarification on this during today.
If you have any questions about the current arrangements please contact me directly. I received one question about the use of individual communion cups earlier in the crisis; the Church of England has no custom, practice or legal precedent for administering communion in this way so the Archbishops were not able to include this in their guidance. Equally, it is not something I would wish to introduce as our teaching and doctrine makes provision for receiving communion in one kind as has now been introduced.
If you know of any particularly vulnerable individuals during this crisis please let me know as our journey through Lent gives us the opportunity to pray with and show compassion to those in greatest need.
Yours in Christ