Church Covid-19 workarounds: Communion/Eucharist special

This discussion was created from comments split from: Public health and religious freedom.
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  • Barnabas_AusBarnabas_Aus Shipmate
    In our Australian diocese we have been given guidelines for reopening for weekday eucharists or for Bible study.

    The eucharist is to have a maximum congregation of 10, plus up to 3 in the altar party and a churchwarden or other church officer. The churchwarden is to be the welcomer, who checks the attendance list against previously registered bookings and ensures that hand sanitisation occurs upon entry. Social distancing is to be enforced through the roping off of pews and seat markers. Sanitisation of the building to occur between services, with particular attention to places where hands may rest. Parishioners to bring their own prayer books - no communal books or prayer cards. No singing for the foreseeable future.

    If all goes well, the bishops of the province may then authorise Sunday worship, and eventually congregations of up to 50 in spaces which can accommodate them. Step 3 would see congregations of up to 100, and Step 4 open attendance.

    I think having a Pentecostal Prime Minister who is clearly enunciating the policies and bluntly saying do this to save lives, backed up by equally blunt medical advisers, may be defusing some of the issues which we are seeing in other countries. I am not of his political persuasion, but he has clearly stepped up and made decisions expeditiously for the country.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I think at least one of our weekday congregations will return to regular worship, not sure about the other as it was very small and high in average age even before lockdown, and one of the regulars has elected to take shore leave from all parish involvement. This is all dependent upon diocesan approval of our risk management plans.

    St Sanity has a couple of mid-week services which could perhaps re-open under the rules. But that's not the real answer. When there, they'd have to sit far apart, not really as a congregation. There'e no guidance yet about taking communion. Having mini-cups* may be a start, but what about the hosts? How is the right number to be in the ciborium without some handling, and then how are they to be distributed. No-one has any answer to this, at least as far as I can see. Then there's the question of cleaning afterwards.

    *Don't like them. They do away with the commonality of the cup. Nor do they really follow the institution of the communion.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Having mini-cups* may be a start, but what about the hosts? How is the right number to be in the ciborium without some handling, and then how are they to be distributed. . . .

    *Don't like them. They do away with the commonality of the cup. Nor do they really follow the institution of the communion.
    While I share your feelings about wee cuppies and am glad that my tribe has been moving away from them, I’d say the same criticisms can made of individual hosts (along with the criticism that they don’t resemble anything else we’d call “bread”). Not that breaking pieces off a common loaf is the way to go during the pandemic.

    That said, I’d assume the person placing hosts in the ciborium would need to wear sterile gloves, as would the person filling the wee cuppies.

  • I came across this YouTube video of the Lutheran Easter Sunday service from Uppsala Cathedral, Sweden - in the C of E, it would be called 'Sung Eucharist', I think:
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=NKQsXPr-h4o

    It's over an hour long, and, naturally, in the Swedish language (some good hymns, though), but shows what might be done here - at least in cathedrals, or large churches, in due course.

    There is a small congregation, well spaced out, and everyone (including the Bishop and assisting priest) seems to observe social distancing - though perhaps less than 2 metres.

    Singing is led by a small group, but I think everyone joins in (the Mass music is AIUI a popular congregational setting in Sweden).

    Note the elaborate hand-washing at the Offertory, and the way in which Communion is received. Interestingly, the chalice is offered, but I didn't see anyone partaking.

    In all fairness, there's plenty of space in Uppsala Cathedral, and smaller places would find it hard to do likewise, but a little congregation like that at Our Place, in a large building, might cope...

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    While I share your feelings about wee cuppies and am glad that my tribe has been moving away from them, I’d say the same criticisms can made of individual hosts (along with the criticism that they don’t resemble anything else we’d call “bread”). Not that breaking pieces off a common loaf is the way to go during the pandemic.

    An advantage of individual wafers is that the risk of trampling bits of Jesus into the carpet is much reduced.

    I think our place is getting something like this to deliver to people to allow them communion by extension at home. When we start up real physical services, I imagine we'll just offer communion in one kind.
  • I think communion in one kind is going to be the 'new normal', at least for the foreseeable future, although (in some circles) wine will still be consecrated, to be consumed by the priest alone.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    While I share your feelings about wee cuppies and am glad that my tribe has been moving away from them, I’d say the same criticisms can made of individual hosts (along with the criticism that they don’t resemble anything else we’d call “bread”). Not that breaking pieces off a common loaf is the way to go during the pandemic.

    An advantage of individual wafers is that the risk of trampling bits of Jesus into the carpet is much reduced.
    True, and that’s a valid consideration in the context of the Eucharistic understandings of some traditions. (Though the Orthodox use a single loaf, I think.) But that individual hosts might have some advantages commending their use doesn’t change the point I was making—that the criticisms made of wee cuppies apply equally to individual hosts.

    I think communion in one kind is going to be the 'new normal', at least for the foreseeable future, although (in some circles) wine will still be consecrated, to be consumed by the priest alone.
    It may be the new normal in those communities for whom communion in one kind is consistent with their Eucharistic understanding. That’s not all of us. :wink:

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But that individual hosts might have some advantages commending their use doesn’t change the point I was making—that the criticisms made of wee cuppies apply equally to individual hosts.

    Yes, I agree that the criticisms of the wee cuppies also apply to individual hosts as well, although I don't think I'd go quite so far as "equally". The question in my mind is whether there are countervailing arguments in favour. (I don't think consecrating wee cuppies is invalid - I just don't prefer it.)

    In the present circumstance, I'm comfortable with the single-user sealed containers I mentioned as a practical way of allowing the faithful to have the sacrament. In normal conditions, I wouldn't do it, but we're not in normal conditions, and those things are so obviously so far removed from our normal practice that it's obvious that they're a concession to the reality of the current moment, and people won't read anything more in to it. Cuppies vs the common cup at the altar isn't so clear-cut - I think it's easy for people to read the use of cuppies at the altar as normal rather than as an adaptation to circumstance. But if you don't think you have a valid Eucharist without partaking in both kinds, I think wee cuppies is your only sensible choice at the moment.

    Handling the hosts and cuppies in these circumstances is no harder than any of the food service activities that are taking place in takeaway restaurants all across the country at the moment.

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »

    I think communion in one kind is going to be the 'new normal', at least for the foreseeable future, although (in some circles) wine will still be consecrated, to be consumed by the priest alone.
    It may be the new normal in those communities for whom communion in one kind is consistent with their Eucharistic understanding. That’s not all of us. :wink:

    Fair comment - point taken.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But that individual hosts might have some advantages commending their use doesn’t change the point I was making—that the criticisms made of wee cuppies apply equally to individual hosts.

    Yes, I agree that the criticisms of the wee cuppies also apply to individual hosts as well, although I don't think I'd go quite so far as "equally". The question in my mind is whether there are countervailing arguments in favour. (I don't think consecrating wee cuppies is invalid - I just don't prefer it.)
    Yes, and I think there’s often a what-we’re-used-to or how-we’ve-always-done-it factor at work, such that wee cuppie users and individual host users (in my experience, there’s not a lot of overlap) criticize the practice they’re not used to without considering how the same criticisms might apply to what they are used to.

    In the present circumstance, I'm comfortable with the single-user sealed containers I mentioned as a practical way of allowing the faithful to have the sacrament. In normal conditions, I wouldn't do it, but we're not in normal conditions, and those things are so obviously so far removed from our normal practice that it's obvious that they're a concession to the reality of the current moment, and people won't read anything more in to it.
    I completely agree.

    Cuppies vs the common cup at the altar isn't so clear-cut - I think it's easy for people to read the use of cuppies at the altar as normal rather than as an adaptation to circumstance.
    I wonder how many Episcopalians/Anglicans would read it as normal. Maybe more than I suspect.

    It seems to me the bigger challenge for Episcopalians/Anglicans is that, absent the single-use pre-packaged option you’ve identified, they don’t have wee cuppies to use. We Presbyterians may not use them as regularly as we used to—at our place, we do pew Communion with wee cuppies twice a year—but we still have them and the trays to hold them that we can easily pull out.

  • AIUI, wee cuppies are expressly forbidden in the Church of England, and this may be true of other Anglican churches, too.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    Why are they expressly forbidden? I understand the symbolism of the common cup, but why would you forbid other options?
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It seems to me the bigger challenge for Episcopalians/Anglicans is that, absent the single-use pre-packaged option you’ve identified, they don’t have wee cuppies to use.

    I'm pretty sure most Episcopalians could round up a few shot glasses :wink:
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    You just tell everyone to bring their own. Even less worry about contamination that way.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    At the moment, we're considering disposable wee cuppies, which would be placed in the trays made for the purpose; the wine is in a chalice and it's that which is to be held at the consecration and then poured into the cuppies. So we can have that degree of commonality. The hosts are another matter at distribution. Our practice has been that 1 or 2 ciboria (depending on the size of the congregation) have a suitable number in them, supplemented by the 2 dozen pieces into which a large host is broken after the consecration. It's the breaking of the large host, and then the handing out, which is troubling us.
  • Barnabas_AusBarnabas_Aus Shipmate
    The advice within our diocese, and as far as I can see from the bishops of the province, including ++Glenn, is communion of one kind, with the celebrant to sanitise hands immediately prior to distribution and again immediately after. Small hosts throughout I would expect. The gluten-free hosts which we use for coeliac parishioners come sealed in individual packets so could be used for others who felt uncomfortable receiving from the paten.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It seems to me the bigger challenge for Episcopalians/Anglicans is that, absent the single-use pre-packaged option you’ve identified, they don’t have wee cuppies to use.

    I'm pretty sure most Episcopalians could round up a few shot glasses :wink:
    Ruth wrote: »
    You just tell everyone to bring their own. Even less worry about contamination that way.
    :lol: Now why didn’t I think of that? BYOC—Bring Your Own Cuppie.

    Wherever two or three are gathered, you’ll find a fifth.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate

    The advice within our diocese, and as far as I can see from the bishops of the province, including ++Glenn, is communion of one kind, with the celebrant to sanitise hands immediately prior to distribution and again immediately after. Small hosts throughout I would expect. The gluten-free hosts which we use for coeliac parishioners come sealed in individual packets so could be used for others who felt uncomfortable receiving from the paten.

    You're using the same gluten free as we are!

    The advice from ++Glenn this morning is:

    However, yesterday Archbishop Anthony Fisher and I had some fruitful conversations with a number of State Government ministers about the possibility Sunday church services returning with greater numbers than the present maximum of ten persons. State Cabinet is meeting this week and we are expecting some response to the concerns we raised by today or tomorrow.
    As well as these discussions, I have a meeting with officials from the Department of Health this afternoon. The Diocesan Bishops of NSW will be joining me for this conversation, where I am hoping to get some clarity on the questions I posed last week.


    This is in an open letter, so no confidentiality concerns. It's interesting that ++Glenn is working with ++Anthony on this and not through the Council of Churches.
  • Aravis wrote: »
    Why are they expressly forbidden? I understand the symbolism of the common cup, but why would you forbid other options?

    I honestly don't know, although it probably has something to do with the perceived importance of the symbolism of the common cup.

    IIRC, the point was made in 'guidance' (aka 'orders') given at the time when services were still being held, but the chalice had been withdrawn. Again IIRC, we were told that the prohibition was enshrined in Canon law, but I don't have the reference handy...

    Personally, I'd have no objection at all to wee cuppies, but it seems so much simpler to just receive in one kind only.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Aravis wrote: »
    Why are they expressly forbidden? I understand the symbolism of the common cup, but why would you forbid other options?

    I honestly don't know, although it probably has something to do with the perceived importance of the symbolism of the common cup.

    IIRC, the point was made in 'guidance' (aka 'orders') given at the time when services were still being held, but the chalice had been withdrawn. Again IIRC, we were told that the prohibition was enshrined in Canon law, but I don't have the reference handy...

    Personally, I'd have no objection at all to wee cuppies, but it seems so much simpler to just receive in one kind only.

    Until the Reformation of the C16, only the clergy took the cup in the Western church. That became a big issue for the reformers and marks the beginning of the present pattern of receiving in both kinds. To mark the difference and to inhibit any return to the older practice, the CoE was insistent that communion be in both kinds - hence Articles XXVIII and XXX.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited May 26
    As you know, most Nonconformists (and I think CofS) use wee cuppies and a real bread. I think the cuppies came from a desire to be hygienic when non-fermented "wine" was used, although it could also stem from a need for convenience in large galleried chapels or Communion gatherings in the open air. Traditionally the bread was pre-cubed, too.

    Nowadays - although the cuppies are still used - a chalice (from which the Minister later drinks) is often held up and a single loaf of bread is ripped apart before the congregation. However I think we'd contend that the essential unity of the service is proclaimed by our 'gatheredness' rather than by any inherent unity in the elements themselves. The enacting of Communion is more important than the mode.
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    CofS mayuse wee cuppies: their use stems from the United Free Church which re-joined the Kirk in 1929. However the CofS must have a common cup available (i.e. filled and offered) for any who would rather use it. In my wee cuppie congregation the cuppie bearers are followed by the goblet bearers and the congregants signal to the latter if they would prefer that. We could go to all wee cuppie, and not send out the common cup, but would have to have the common cup there and useable. Which is why communion in one kind was what was being commended just before lockdown
  • Cathscats wrote: »
    CofS mayuse wee cuppies: their use stems from the United Free Church which re-joined the Kirk in 1929. However the CofS must have a common cup available (i.e. filled and offered) for any who would rather use it. In my wee cuppie congregation the cuppie bearers are followed by the goblet bearers and the congregants signal to the latter if they would prefer that. We could go to all wee cuppie, and not send out the common cup, but would have to have the common cup there and useable. Which is why communion in one kind was what was being commended just before lockdown

    Interesting. Only the elders are offered the common cup here.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    ATMF--

    Is that people who hold the office of Elder in the church, or older folks?

    Thx.
  • Golden Key wrote: »
    ATMF--

    Is that people who hold the office of Elder in the church, or older folks?

    Thx.

    The former.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    If we're going to pour from a common cup to wee cuppies we may need to invent a sacramental syringe/dropper to protect Jesus from diminution through spillage
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    Cathscats wrote: »
    CofS mayuse wee cuppies: their use stems from the United Free Church which re-joined the Kirk in 1929. However the CofS must have a common cup available (i.e. filled and offered) for any who would rather use it. In my wee cuppie congregation the cuppie bearers are followed by the goblet bearers and the congregants signal to the latter if they would prefer that. We could go to all wee cuppie, and not send out the common cup, but would have to have the common cup there and useable. Which is why communion in one kind was what was being commended just before lockdown

    Interesting. Only the elders are offered the common cup here.

    Yes, I have seen that done too, the get out being that the common cup is there and “They can ask for it if they want it.”
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Zappa wrote: »
    If we're going to pour from a common cup to wee cuppies we may need to invent a sacramental syringe/dropper to protect Jesus from diminution through spillage
    I have seen chalices with a lip for pouring into wee cuppies.

  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Our stroke of genius (planned but not yet implemented as we're not yet back to RL services) is to double the numbers of wee cuppies... and put a pre-cut piece of bread in alternate ones.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Zappa wrote: »
    If we're going to pour from a common cup to wee cuppies we may need to invent a sacramental syringe/dropper to protect Jesus from diminution through spillage
    I have seen chalices with a lip for pouring into wee cuppies.

    Consecrate most of the wine in cruets or flagons. Pour from there. That's what we do anyway - consecrate some wine in the chalice, and plenty more in cruets so that the chalice can be refilled as necessary. There's no need to pass the Most Precious Blood through the chalice on the way to the cuppies.

    Then have the priest consume the entire contents of the "common" cup.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Yeah, I’m not sure what having a chalice with a pouring lip is supposed to add that couldn’t be achieved with a flagon or cruet, but somebody seems to think there’s a purpose for them.

    Of course, that purpose could primarily be the making of money for the manufacturers and retailers. But even that purpose wouldn’t be achieved unless others buy them.

  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host

    Then have the priest consume the entire contents of the "common" cup.

    "Nom nom nom ... er, in the name of the Goly fardder, Sshpit, and Odder Bloke and anyway osshifer, I wash saving Kovidz"
  • Barnabas_AusBarnabas_Aus Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »

    The advice within our diocese, and as far as I can see from the bishops of the province, including ++Glenn, is communion of one kind, with the celebrant to sanitise hands immediately prior to distribution and again immediately after. Small hosts throughout I would expect. The gluten-free hosts which we use for coeliac parishioners come sealed in individual packets so could be used for others who felt uncomfortable receiving from the paten.

    You're using the same gluten free as we are!

    The advice from ++Glenn this morning is:

    However, yesterday Archbishop Anthony Fisher and I had some fruitful conversations with a number of State Government ministers about the possibility Sunday church services returning with greater numbers than the present maximum of ten persons. State Cabinet is meeting this week and we are expecting some response to the concerns we raised by today or tomorrow.
    As well as these discussions, I have a meeting with officials from the Department of Health this afternoon. The Diocesan Bishops of NSW will be joining me for this conversation, where I am hoping to get some clarity on the questions I posed last week.


    This is in an open letter, so no confidentiality concerns. It's interesting that ++Glenn is working with ++Anthony on this and not through the Council of Churches.

    Looks like ++Anthony has broken ranks

  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    Good for him. He makes valid points of comparion with restaurants etc.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    I'm surprised that restaurants in NSW are not being expected to maintain records of customers. Even the shambolic sh*****w of a UK government appears to be insisting on that (though opening of restaurants, as churches, appears to be some way off.)
  • cgichard wrote: »
    Good for him. He makes valid points of comparion with restaurants etc.

    We've had the restaurant discussion a bit at our place. Restaurants are opening for outdoor dining; churches are not.

    I know that I could construct an outdoor communion service for our entire congregation that would pose significantly less risk of virus transmission than were that same congregation to legally take lunch at the carefully-spaced outdoor tables that restaurants are currently permitted. It's not that hard (one obvious factor is that people can wear masks during worship, but it's hard to wear a mask while you're eating lunch.)

    I also know that this low-transmission outdoor church would look very different from our normal services, whereas outdoor dining with spaced-out tables looks quite similar to normal restaurant dining. Basically, it means that my intent to create a low-transmission environment would be completely ruined by the presence of 100 idiots^Wfellow parishioners forgetting the constraints they're under.

    So we discussed it, and agreed that even if we were to be granted permission to hold an outdoor 6-foot-spacing church service, we wouldn't do it.
  • Umm...'This page can't be displayed'...
    :disappointed:
  • Umm...'This page can't be displayed'...
    :disappointed:
    Hmmmm. I could open it.

  • O. I tried Googling the 'premier Christian news' website, and got the same message.

    A cross-Pond thing, maybe?
  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited August 13
    It works for me too.
    The BBC had it yesterday https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-53723824
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    It works for me (UK) too.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 13
    Thanks @Heavenlyannie - the BBC link works fine!

    Rev Harrop is clearly accustomed to using chopsticks with a steady hand - I'd be afraid of dropping the Blessed Sacrament onto the floor... :grimace:

    (BTW - wafers are 'real bread', but I take the point..)
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    When people say ‘real bread’ They usually have in mind what the Prayer Book refers to when it says
    it shall suffice that the Bread be such as is usual to be eaten
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 13
    Yes, of course, and that which is most conveniently to be gotten, IIRC!

    I can see that 'real bread' is easier to handle with chopsticks... :flushed: ...and if it reassures the Faithful, so much the better.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    And to take away all occasion of dissension, and superstition, which any person hath or might have concerning the Bread and Wine, it shall suffice that the Bread be such as is usual to be eaten; but the best and purest Wheat Bread that conveniently may be gotten.
  • Must the pastor/priest/whatever actually hand over the elements? We've been consecrating and then standing back to allow the people to approach one at a time and take (elements are well-separated from one another, not in a heap or whatever). Seems to me safer and easier than chopsticks. Or tongs, I suppose.
  • malahatmalahat Shipmate Posts: 2
    Russian Orthodox services at the Cathedral in Podolsk are shown live and may be of interest.
    Go in with InternetExplorer and it should give you access to a translation
    https://podolsk-sobor.ru/content/rasporyadok-bogosluzheniy
  • The whole issue of separate cups has re-emerged too. Legal advice challenges the position and also that of using separate wafers.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited August 14
    We will be celebrating Communion on Sunday, first time since re-opening: little cups for the wine as per usual practice, but also cubed bread in other little cups - people will take one of each when they are served. I shall break bread and use the chalice as normal.
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