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Ship of Fools: Pohick Church, Lorton, Virginia, USA


imageShip of Fools: Pohick Church, Lorton, Virginia, USA

Communion in the courtyard – but no one received!

Read the full Mystery Worshipper report here


Comments

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 30
    Thanks for the report, Miss Amanda. After the mention of Pohick Church (Ah, Low Church Virginia, where Episcopal churches can have almost-Presbyterian names*) in another thread, I went and watched a previous service on their website. Suppose they celebrated a Eucharist and no one received indeed. I took the rector’s not receiving as another mark of Low Church Virginia.

    But however taken aback Washington might be by Rite II language, my guess is he’d be even more taken aback by a female rector and celebrant.


    * I note, too, that they, like clergy in some other Episcopal services I have observed during Coronatide, have adopted the practice I’ve seen for years among Presbyterian ministers of wearing a stole over “street clothes” in some less formal situations.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    I do wonder what they did with the communion elements afterwards. Did the priests consume them in private? Did they take them on sickbed visitations? Low church or not, I doubt if they left them out for the birds.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 30
    Low church or not, I doubt if they left them out for the birds.
    I would not dismiss that as a possibility in the Diocese of Virginia. With his greater familiarity with Virginia Episcopalians, @PDR might gave some insights.

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    Of course I couldn't leave my MW Calling Card. I'll e-mail the rector and alert her to the existence of the report. Perhaps she can tell us what became of the consecrated elements.
  • Yes, and it would be interesting to know the rationale behind the non-reception generally. I can quite understand that some present might not wish to receive, for various reasons, but I should have thought it was the priest's duty to consume the elements publicly...

    The photo shows what a beautiful place this is, BTW -
  • My hunch is the rationale is “if the people can’t receive, I can’t/shouldn’t either.”

    I did a little looking, and found this transcript of a Q&A between clergy and the Bishop of Virginia. It includes this:
    On Monday, at a meeting of the Association of Episcopal Deacons, it was noted that a priest continued with the consecration via video, but then did NOT consume the Body or Blood, but instead mentioned that he was having a Fast from the Eucharist, allowing the heart and soul to receive the Eucharist instead. Opinion? This is the reference I was referring to:

    Spiritual Communion. Attributed to St Alphonsus de Liguori 1696-1787. My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I love you above all things, and long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.

    Bishop Susan: this aligns with my own thoughts as to how I would do it if I were still in parish ministry. We are in solidarity with our congregations and with those who have even more stringent restrictions right now. Our tradition does allow, however, for the priest and the altar party to receive the consecrated elements, even if the remote congregation cannot. Think through your own understanding of sacramental theology and ecclesiology, along with what you are aiming to say to the congregation, and make your best decision about this.

  • O - I'm sorry.

    I didn't realise that in this case the people couldn't receive.

    My bad.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    YThe photo shows what a beautiful place this is

    One assumes it looked much the same in George Washington's time. It is easy to see why Washington loved this church.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Very attractive indeed. We call the style colonial Georgian. I assume that's the rectory behind?

    As to the service: I can sort of understand that the altar party did not take because the rest of the congregation could not, but that is a case for the Spiritual Communion to be said by that congregation. We first came across St Alphonsus's in an ultra-high Anglican Church in another state here.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 31
    Gee D wrote: »
    Very attractive indeed. We call the style colonial Georgian. I assume that's the rectory behind?
    Regarding a building “behind,” which picture are you looking at? In the picture at the head of this article/thread, the only building I see is the church.

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    Gee D wrote: »
    VI can sort of understand that the altar party did not take because the rest of the congregation could not, but that is a case for the Spiritual Communion to be said by that congregation.

    The Prayer of Spiritual Communion was recited by all. It was printed in the service leaflet and I mentioned it in the report.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Very attractive indeed. We call the style colonial Georgian. I assume that's the rectory behind?
    Regarding a building “behind,” which picture are you looking at? In the picture at the head of this article/thread, the only building I see is the church.

    I get 2 photographs. One has the altar and altar party in front of a building with round arches, which I thought would be the church. That's at the top of the page when you click on Mystery Worshipper. The other is on the page as you scroll down from that, a collection of thumbnail photos for churches recently visited. There's one for Pohick Church. I click on that, and get to a page with a photo on the top and the report below. That photo has a garden in the foreground (with what look to be daffodils in flower) and an attractive brick building behind - 5 windows upstairs, and a symmetrical ground floor with 2 windows either side of a door with a pediment over it. That's the building I thought may have been the rectory.

    My comment about reciting the Spiritual Communion was not as clear as it ought to have been. I was more talking of the practice being followed at a pretty low-church service such as this, and the use I'd come across at the Anglo-Catholic one. The service here looks and sounds to have been very similar to the old low-church practice in Sydney, rather than the Moore College style now more generally adopted.
  • Ah, I’ve got it now. The building you see beyond the garden is the church. The building with arches behind the outdoor altar is the (much newer) parish house.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thanks - I had the buildings back-to-front then.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    The parish house is identified by a sign attached to the wall. I also mentioned in the report that the altar had been set up in front of the parish house.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I can't really read that sign, but ought to have read the report more carefully
  • I guessed that the building in the photo on the top of this page was indeed the church, but in this country it might indeed be taken to be the Rectory - or perhaps a rather grand Methodist Church!

    It certainly has a look of 18thC Non-Conformity to it, to these English eyes, and I can't help feeling that John Wesley would have liked it very much.
  • There is, as I understand it, a rectory on or near the church grounds, but it somewhat removed from the church and parish house.

    @Bishops Finger, the style of the church was fairly common, though not universal, for colonial and early post-colonial churches in the US, including Anglican/Episcopal churches. What is perhaps less common is that the church wasn’t remodeled or replaced in the 19sup C by a building with, say, a steeple.

  • Thanks @Nick Tamen - still being in original style (I note that it has been much restored) makes it even more of a gem, IMHO.

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Chances are that the elements were consumed afterwards, per the old BCP's rubrics. DoVa has been exceedingly twitchy about the coronavirus, which is not surprising given they have a lot of large congregations in smallish buildings. DSWVa, which is the local diocese seems to have been even more cautious, and I have not heard of the local TEC parish attempting even outdoor services yet.

    Usual liturgical drill in VA is Rite II HC in alb and stole, celebrated facing with a minimal of ceremonial. Although crucifers and acolytes seem to have caught on, they are not kept that busy. I would usually describe Virginia Churchmanship these days as being 'Low, but pretending to be higher.' There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. The last MP hold outs went during the last decade.

    Washington would not have had a problem with it, as he wouldn't have turned up - he was a MP man, and is generally accepted to have communicated once in his whole life. Martha Washington, on the other hand, was a communicant. There is an extant letter from the Rt. Rev. William White that attests to much of this.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    PDR - I could work out your other acronyms, but not MP. Any clues please?
  • I'm going to hazard a guess - Morning Prayer...?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited September 3
    That's what I assumed. Prior to the 1979 prayer book, Morning Prayer and Sermon was the main Sunday service of Episcopal churches in this part of the US. Holy Communion took the place of Morning Prayer and Sermon on the first Sunday of the month, and Holy Communion might also be celebrated at an early Sunday service and a mid-week service (both likely attended by a handful of people). With the 1979 prayer book, churches began to shift to weekly Eucharists as the main Sunday service, and Morning Prayer pretty much disappeared—at least until Coronatide brought it back. That shift took maybe 10+ years in my Virginia-adjacent part of the world. I took @PDR to be saying that the Morning Prayer-to-Holy Eucharist shift took until the last decade—that is, more than 40 years from the adoption of the 1979 prayer book—in some parishes in Virginia.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thank you both. I was a bit amused that the abbreviations for the dioceses were DoVa and DSWVa - why the "o" on the first and not the second?

    A quick question. I'd assumed that a Parish House was a rectory, but from Nick Tamen's post, there's a difference. Is the Parish House the office, meeting rooms, hall etc?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited September 4
    Gee D wrote: »
    A quick question. I'd assumed that a Parish House was a rectory, but from Nick Tamen's post, there's a difference. Is the Parish House the office, meeting rooms, hall etc?
    Yes—typically offices, hall, parlor (at least usually in this part of the world), library, choir room, class rooms, etc.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thanks - a collection of attractive buildings.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I took @PDR to be saying that the Morning Prayer-to-Holy Eucharist shift took until the last decade—that is, more than 40 years from the adoption of the 1979 prayer book—in some parishes in Virginia.
    There is probably a D.Min. dissertation in the politics and sociology of the changeover from Morning Prayer (MP) to Communion in Virginia. Newer suburban parishes tended to swap over in the 1980s; the old established city centre parishes with multiple services tended to hold on well into the 2000s with at least the 11:00am service being MP two or three Sundays a month; everyone else was somewhere in between. I think it is fair to say that Diocese of Southwestern Virginia moved over a bit faster the Southern Virginia, which in turn was faster going to "McCommunion" than the Diocese of Virginia. There is still a handful of small churches that alternate between MP and HC - there's one about ten miles from me, who gave my congregation their remaining 1928 BCPs when we started up. Apparently we had solved a perennial parish headache for them.

    My first contact with Virginia was back in 1994, so I have been a lot of the changeover during my sporadic contacts with the Commonwealth over the past 25 years. Virginia's Churchmanship in the 19th century was strongly Evangelical and had a distinct whiff of the old Princeton theology about it. It was pretty much a one party system more so than any other diocese. That broke up in the 20th century, but one of my colleagues likes remind us that there was still at least one of the tutors at Virginia Seminary who celebrated from the North end in the 1960s!

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited September 7
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Ah, I’ve got it now. The building you see beyond the garden is the church. The building with arches behind the outdoor altar is the (much newer) parish house.

    The parish house movement started in the 1870s. I want to say with the Rev. William Rainsford and St George's, NYC, but that is probably false. However, that parish was well-known by 1880/5 for the sort of extensive social programmes you cannot have without the aforementioned structure. I associate them with a sort of muscular broad church/liberal approach to Episcopalianism, but everyone else caught on to the idea and by the early 1900s you pretty much had to have one to be taken seriously in the urban context. Small towns probably did not get into them until either the 1920s or the 1950s, but they are very much a thing especially on the East Coast.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited September 7
    PDR wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Ah, I’ve got it now. The building you see beyond the garden is the church. The building with arches behind the outdoor altar is the (much newer) parish house.
    The parish house movement started in the 1870s. . . . .Small towns probably did not get into them until either the 1920s or the 1950s, but they are very much a thing especially on the East Coast.
    In my experience, there’s nothing about them that’s unique to the Episcopal Church. They or something pretty close to them are par for the course for any but the very smallest of churches around here, particularly mainline Protestant or Catholic. The only thing at all distinctive about Episcopal ones in my experience is that no one other than Episcopalians and maybe Catholics calls them “parish houses.”


    PDR wrote: »
    I think it is fair to say that Diocese of Southwestern Virginia moved over a bit faster the Southern Virginia, which in turn was faster going to "McCommunion" than the Diocese of Virginia.
    Okay, now I’m going to have to ask what exactly you mean by “McCommunion.” I’m assuming it’s not a compliment. :smirk:

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    I'll bet it has something to do with Happy Meal.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    It is probably me, but McCommunion reflects my reaction to the usual bland, noisy, sociable, mid-morning Low Church communion service where receiving the Sacrament seems to be treated with slightly less thought than the trip to MickyD's afterwards. I guess it is one of those areas where both my high view of the sacraments and my residual Anglo-Catholicism kick in. Certainly I have had conversations with communicants where the idea that self-examination, prayer, and if necessary confession are required as preparation for Communion was utterly foreign. The Lutherans in my flock are cool with it though.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Reading this report, and also the Parish's website, shows that Pohick(and perhaps the rest of Virginia) is not as low as an old-fashioned Sydney low-church parish. The use of stoles in liturgical colours is a good start - Sydney used be back scarf and surplice, sometimes with a black cassock. At a Moore College parish these days, you'd be lucky to get a suit for a Communion service (no Eucharists), and maybe a jacket and tie for the terrible All Age service.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited September 8
    'Low' in America is generally 'MOTR-leaning-low' anywhere else. Oddly, there are also relatively few "lace-up-to-the-titties" Anglo-Catholic places outside of the Northeast corridor and Chicago. I am thought of as 'low' though in fact I maintain the Central Churchmanship uniform of my yoof, which was surplice and stole for sacraments, and surplice and tippet for everything else. I have a white cope for Christmas, Easter, and Trinity! This is, of course, worn over a double breasted cassock held closed by a scuffed leather belt, which is also what I wear walking to and from church in the cooler months.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    PDR wrote: »
    It is probably me, but McCommunion reflects my reaction to the usual bland, noisy, sociable, mid-morning Low Church communion service where receiving the Sacrament seems to be treated with slightly less thought than the trip to MickyD's afterwards.

    That was certainly my experience when I visited this church several years ago.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Reading this report, and also the Parish's website, shows that Pohick(and perhaps the rest of Virginia) is not as low as an old-fashioned Sydney low-church parish. The use of stoles in liturgical colours is a good start - Sydney used be back scarf and surplice, sometimes with a black cassock. At a Moore College parish these days, you'd be lucky to get a suit for a Communion service (no Eucharists), and maybe a jacket and tie for the terrible All Age service.

    Come to think about it. There was a period before The War Between the States when surplice was unusual in Virginia, and at that point there was very little to distinguish the Episcopalians from the Presbyterians, except for the BCP, fewer committees and bishops as Princeton theology, black gowns and central pulpits were the order of the day. By the end of his term Bishop Whittle (in office, 1876-1902) lamented the degree to which Tractarian ideas such as surpliced choirs and disuse of the pulpit gown were beginning to gain traction in the diocese. Going off the various rogue's galleries of rectors that I have seen, I doubt if cassock, surplice and scarf has been general for the communion service since the 1920s here, though there were still 'some' as recently as the 1970s. Cassock, Surplice and stole were general for communion a generation ago (mid-1990s) when I had my first contact with things Virginia, and the braver (or more foolhardy) souls had experimenting with cassock-albs, and chasubles since the 1970s. I would imagine that these days most bigger town parishes use albs and chasubles; in country churches alb and stole is more common.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited September 9
    PDR wrote: »
    It is probably me, but McCommunion reflects my reaction to the usual bland, noisy, sociable, mid-morning Low Church communion service where receiving the Sacrament seems to be treated with slightly less thought than the trip to MickyD's afterwards.
    Ah, thanks. Though to be fair, I don’t think that approach is limited to Low Church Episcopal/Anglican services. In my experience, it can be found among quite a few groups, including Catholics even.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    PDR wrote: »
    Going off the various rogue's galleries of rectors that I have seen, I doubt if cassock, surplice and scarf has been general for the communion service since the 1920s here, though there were still 'some' as recently as the 1970s. Cassock, Surplice and stole were general for communion a generation ago (mid-1990s) when I had my first contact with things Virginia, and the braver (or more foolhardy) souls had experimenting with cassock-albs, and chasubles since the 1970s. I would imagine that these days most bigger town parishes use albs and chasubles; in country churches alb and stole is more common.

    Of course, chasubles are banned in Sydney - originally by the Abp's direction, then by Synod ordinance.
  • Going back to the phenomenon of even the priest not receiving communion. I find this weird (if not offensive) by any criterion. If you are 'fasting from the sacrament' (which many people have done during the pandemic for understandable reasons) why not simply celebrate a liturgy of the Word? If you believe in a more Catholic understanding of the Mass as an objective offering, you would presumably also accept the theology which says the sacrifice is incomplete until the president receives. The practice reported here seems to be some kind of hocus-pocus play acting. Here In the C of E churches of all traditions have become used, firstly to 'solitary' eucharists broadcast online, and more recently to socially distanced gatherings in church at which communion is distributed to all, in one kind. What is happening elsewhere in TEC?
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    edited September 10
    This was my thought too. Surely the rector knew what condition the chalice and paten were in germ-wise, as well as the bread's provenance. I can't imagine that the wine would be a conduit of germs. She was the only one who had touched the elements. It would have been safe for her to have communed herself. Assuming that the assistant rector knew where the rector's hands had been, it would surely have been safe for him to have communed himself also.

    Although I personally much prefer the Eucharist to Morning Prayer, I wondered why they didn't simply have Morning Prayer under the circumstances.

    I did, BTW, write to them asking what had become of the consecrated elements, but to date have received no answer.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 10
    What @angloid said, and a further remark to add that some churches - not necessarily of a non-eucharistic tradition - took to live-streaming some form of Morning Prayer/Liturgy of the Word during lockdown.

    Now that some (at least) of those churches are again open, they will probably be having the sort of Covid-friendly (!) Eucharist described.
  • angloid wrote: »
    Here In the C of E churches of all traditions have become used, firstly to 'solitary' eucharists broadcast online, and more recently to socially distanced gatherings in church at which communion is distributed to all, in one kind. What is happening elsewhere in TEC?
    I haven’t seen any statistics, so I can’t say for certain; I’ve only got anecdata to go on. Most TEC churches I’ve checked out during Coronatide have been using Morning Prayer, though a few have been using a liturgy of the Word/ante-Communion.

    I’ll repeat, though, what I noted and linked to up thread from the Q&A between the clergy and Bishop of Virginia, where the bishop said that the practice of the priest consecrating the elements but then not receiving
    aligns with my own thoughts as to how I would do it if I were still in parish ministry. We are in solidarity with our congregations and with those who have even more stringent restrictions right now. Our tradition does allow, however, for the priest and the altar party to receive the consecrated elements, even if the remote congregation cannot. Think through your own understanding of sacramental theology and ecclesiology, along with what you are aiming to say to the congregation, and make your best decision about this.
    This was in response to someone who’d seen a streamed service like the one from Pohick, so it seems to be happening elsewhere in TEC.

    Meanwhile, mention was made of “fasting from the sacrament.” I heard an interesting discussion on that concept recently. Rather than annoy Miss Amanda by pursuing some discussion about it in this thread, I’ve started a new thread about it here.

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