Services without licensed ministers.


This project by Lincoln Diocese may be an imaginative initiative to deal with the problem of insufficient numbers of ministers in rural areas. But is it a bold step forward or an admission of defeat?
[url] https://www.lincoln.anglican.org/the-homilies-project [/url]
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Comments

  • I don't imagine that it's either, but I am surprised that they do not have sufficient numbers of lay readers or ordained local ministers-- perhaps it's an organizational problem. In any case it provides material for really small congregations.
  • But is it a bold step forward or an admission of defeat?
    [url] https://www.lincoln.anglican.org/the-homilies-project [/url]
    My concern is that the reader is sharing someone else's homily (and hence their "take" on things).

    The danger here is of a "party line" (of whatever hue) being preached in the churches allowing no space for individual dynamism.

  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited August 9
    Although I'm perhaps not as worried about the "party line" than EM, I just feel that reading out a committee's pre-prepared essay isn't very exciting! It lacks the immediacy and personal touch of something that has been prepared by an individual. I also wonder how many congregations will actually do the discussion? - I suspect very few, which is a shame.

    Of course this isn't just a problem in the CofE but in many denominations, even those which have traditionally prized and used lay ministry. In turn this raises the questions (far too late!) of why the teaching given in church hasn't led to a greater level of Biblical and theological awareness among congregations, and why so few people feel confident to stand up and offer their thoughts to those congregations. In those senses it is, I feel, an admission of defeat.
  • Are you seriously telling us, EM, that there isn't a party-line, of whatever hue, already in place in your own congregation?

    Or in any congregation the length and breadth of Christendom, come to that?

    There's an unspoken party line running through the hymns and songs we use, the texts and prayers, whether we go in for particular ceremonies or forms of decoration ...

    I'm sure I could detect a party-line running through your services after a couple of visits, if that.

    The issue isn't whether there's a party-line or not but acknowledging that there is one and working with that.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    edited August 9
    Gamma Gamaliel

    You ain't got Congregationalism yet have you? Of course, there is a party line, that of the LOCAL congregation not one from outside of it. This is because it, and not the wider denomination, area or larger Church body, is the expression of the CHURCH in that context. This is why many congregations prefer a member of the congregation to preach rather than a visiting preacher who is better qualified.

    Exclamation Mark and Baptist Trainfan

    This is the CofE we are talking about, they have been reading out authorised sermons forever. I think you are trying to bolt the stable door when it is a ruin with one side is missing.

    Now for everyone a story from when my father was training for the ministry. Students were supportive of each other when they went out preaching and so would often be found in the congregation. However, one Sunday a student (shall we say John) overheard another student giving a sermon he had heard preached by one of the college lecturers (let's call him Mr Smith) the previous Sunday. So he reported to the principal. The student is duly called into the principal's office and asked whether he preached a sermon by Mr Smith.
    "Why no he replied, the sermon was by Mr Jones (a well-known preacher)"

    The borrowing of sermons in Non-Conformity is a well-established practice.
  • The Orthodoxen can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm of the understanding that a similar arrangement exists in rural Greece. Where a priest isn't present regularly there are fellas licensed to read services in their stead, although not to celebrate the Eucharist.

    I might be wrong, but they may be permitted to distributed elements that have already been consecrated. Someone can put me straight on that one.

    It's long puzzled me why the CofE doesn't adopt a similar practice, if indeed this is the practice in Greece.

    As to whether reading a committee's shared essay is as exciting as the sermon a minister has freshly baked that week - it depends on the minister!

    ;)

    I can understand non-conformist qualms about such practices but really, am I to trouble myself unduly whether I'm following a particular party-line or not by praying an Anglican Daily Office, say or following the Readers' Daily Matins in an Orthodox prayer book or following Northumbria Community Prayers or the set daily prayers from a Roman Missal?

    If I attended EM's church this coming Sunday I'd be toe-ing a particular party-line, the one that runs through the middle of his congregation.

    Same if I attended Baptist Trainfan's church or anyone else's church.

    Anyhow, coming back to the OP, I think it's an interesting initiative but whether or not it'll have any effect or do any good remains to be seen.

    It'd very much depend on the individual parish, I suspect. If they pick it up and run with it then they might make it work. If they don't, then they won't.
  • Just had a quick look at one of the homilies.

    No surprises.

    I can't see how these are any different to the MoTR material one finds in Anglican seasonal study guides such as the Pilgrim Course.

    Nor does it look dissimilar to what one might read in the RC notes to accompany a lectio-divina course.

    I can see the value in principle and can see that they might be useful as a framework for reflection and discussion.

    It'd all depend on whether there was an appetite there to engage with it all in the first place. In some parishes I know there is very little appetite for this sort of thing, which is a pity but what can be done about that?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    What is better - a service led by a lay person and using a sermon prepared at some central office, or no service at all? I can't speak of Lincoln, but there are many churches here where the bullet has been bitten, and to the extent that it may be a Eucharist of the pre-sanctified. No lightning bolts so far, no skies reported as falling in.
  • Well I prepare my own sermons ... but I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit that I've not sometimes started from what I said the previous time those readings came up, borrowed from what I've remembered of other sermons or looked at the vast number of sermons available online. Who doesn't? Even "professional clergy" aren't in the position of preparing an entirely novel take on a set of readings every Sunday. Some pre-prepared material to help lay (and ordained!) preachers, even to be used in that fall-back of times when circumstances rob people of time to prepare properly, is great IMO. Though support and training to raise up more people to preach, and for them to prepare sermons that address the particular congregation, would also be essential.

    I was raised a Methodist, and my understanding is that in the event of a preacher not appearing on Sunday that one of the church stewards would read a sermon by Wesley.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited August 9
    I have been in services where a taped sermon (yes, it was that long ago) have been played.

    Nothing is guaranteed to send me to sleep more quickly, irrespective of the preacher. (A video version would be better as at least there is something to see as well as hear).
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited August 9
    ... for them to prepare sermons that address the particular congregation ...
    Isn't that the crux of the matter? Of course we all borrow material from elsewhere, but it has to be shaped for our own context: God's Word for God's people here and now.

    IMO the Lincoln idea is OK so long as they do the discussion as well as listen to the homily. But I doubt many congregations will do that (and even a discussion needs a good leader to be fruitful).

  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    Just had a quick look at one of the homilies.

    No surprises.

    I can't see how these are any different to the MoTR material one finds in Anglican seasonal study guides such as the Pilgrim Course.

    Nor does it look dissimilar to what one might read in the RC notes to accompany a lectio-divina course.

    I can see the value in principle and can see that they might be useful as a framework for reflection and discussion.

    It'd all depend on whether there was an appetite there to engage with it all in the first place. In some parishes I know there is very little appetite for this sort of thing, which is a pity but what can be done about that?

    Isn't the point - or maybe one of the points - that this gives nervous congregations permission to do what anyone would want to do anyhow? I can easily imagine a bloody-minded churchwarden or similar, when finding that no priest or reader was available, saying that they would read matins and insert the BRF commentary for the day instead of a sermon. (In fact I've absolutely no need to imagine any such thing. My Dad was that bloody-minded churchwarden.) But this allows the movers and shakers in a church who are rather more concerned about not offending the hierarchy to keep the regular service going - and gives them easy access to appropriate material to read.
  • Context is everything. I'd imagine that in some of the more evangelically inclined parishes on the Lincoln patch there'd already be people running mid-week housetops, having discussions and pontificating about this, that or the other scriptural passages and interpretations.

    What this initiative seems to be about is plugging gaps where this sort of thing may not be the 'norm'.

    Heck, it ain't that different to what happens at my local RC parish where a group meets regularly for lectio-divina using that tried and tested format and some helpful notes provided by the RC diocese.

    I've heard more common sense and grounded theology discussed at those sessions I've attended during Lent than many an evangelical Bible study I've been to in the past ...

    As to whether the Lincoln homilies could stimulate discussion, that would depend on whoever is taking part.

    If they are used to Lenten studies or lectio-divina or similar, then yes. Otherwise, I suspect it's unlikely. Irrespective of churchmanship, I've always found that discussion sessions and so on attract the keenies.

    Most people can't be arsed.

    I avoid housegroups and similar like the plague.

    Our vicar once introduced some study / guidance notes for the housegroups and they were highly prescriptive and one-dimensionally pietistic in a cloyingly evangelical kind of way.

    Stuff that.

    The Lincoln homilies are MoTR and won't scare the horses but at least the saddlery isn't buckled up so tightly that the horses can't breathe.

    I think they a good idea. You can lead a horse to water though ...

    There's got to be a balance somewhere. In my experience many liberal and MoTR parishes are so 'loose' that there's very little on offer than the bare minimum.

    Whereas many evangelical parishes and congregations can be intensely claustrophobic and spend their entire waking hours in and out of homegroups, mid-week meetings, prayer meetings and the Good Lord knows what else to the point that they become too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use.

    There has to be a middle way ...
  • Services being taken by non-licensed peeps is nothing new - Churchwardens have AIUI always been allowed to read Matins or Evensong (as appropriate) in default of a clergyperson or Licensed Lay Reader (or whatever - titles differ from diocese to diocese!).

    The idea of reading someone else's sermons is nothing new, either - though I wonder how many Anglican Shipmates have ever listened to their minister reading from one of the two Books of Homilies ?

    If the little communities of faith being catered for here can make this scheme work i.e. by discussing (sensibly) the material provided, this could well do them good.

    IJ
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    It's not just the unordained, of course. A recent fill-in seized on a (very tangential) reference to shepherds in the readings to read us her sermon on the 23rd psalm (which was not the psalm we used). She's retired, but -- like many clergy who were trained to write out their sermons in extenso -- clearly has a bank of existing sermons to go to for any occasion. How is that different from what this thread is about?
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    There is nothing new under the sun. As I understand it, the first Readers were given homilies to read inside the church. Their ministry was primarily about sharing the good news about Jesus in the workplace and community. Over time the Reader role became a catch-all for lay people with a calling to preach and teach, whether inside or outside of the church, or both, and they have only recently been given structured theolological training. This seems to have left a void to be filled by those with a calling to lay ministry who are not ready or able to receive such training. It's being filled in various ways across the country, but all kinds of lay ministry will be seen more and more as Setting God's People Free is rolled out by the C of E.

    God is at work. It's a bold step forward, not meant to replace clergy but to complement their ministry and set them free too. Time will tell.
  • I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.

    I understand the context, I'm just bothered by the legalism.

    AFF
  • You need a licence to drive a car, don't you?
  • A Feminine ForceA Feminine Force Shipmate
    edited August 9
    You need a licence to drive a car, don't you?

    Yes I do. Meaning it is ILLEGAL to operate a motor vehicle without one and I would be subject to fine or other civil or criminal penalties for driving without one.

    Are you suggesting that we should be arresting people or fining them for standing in the pulpit and talking on Sunday?

    Where does this leave the Baptists who are a priesthood of believers who can administer the elements and baptise "without a license"?

    AFF
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.
    Not “illegal” as such. Just unauthorized. “License” simply means formal permission or authorization to do something. In this particular instance, it means that the bishop (or other authority?) has or has not authorized an individual to preach in a church for which the bishop has responsibility and oversight.

    In my experience, “licensed” is a fairly common term in ecclesial contexts, and the concept, even if another word is used, is even more common.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.

    I understand the context, I'm just bothered by the legalism.

    AFF

    It is against church law, not secular law. So there could not be criminal proceedings in a secular court.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.
    Not “illegal” as such. Just unauthorized. “License” simply means formal permission or authorization to do something. In this particular instance, it means that the bishop (or other authority?) has or has not authorized an individual to preach in a church for which the bishop has responsibility and oversight.

    In my experience, “licensed” is a fairly common term in ecclesial contexts, and the concept, even if another word is used, is even more common.

    Well OK then. There's a distinctly Pharisaical whiff about it in my nostrils, but I left the church ten years ago so I'm not up on current ecclesiastical carryings on.

    If that's the vocabulary you use, then carry on.

    AFF

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    If that's the vocabulary you use, then carry on.
    In my tribe, we tend to speak of being commissioned, or in some contexts being granted permission or authority, rather than being licensed. But the concept is similar. I’ve frequently heard “licensed” in Anglican and, I think, Methodist settings, and maybe Baptist as well.
  • A Feminine ForceA Feminine Force Shipmate
    edited August 10
    The words used in my Baptist congregation were "ordained" and "lay". The lay ministry had just as much legitimacy as the ordained ministry, because Baptists are by definition a "priesthood of believers ministering to one another".

    A central ecclesiastical authority is anathema to a Baptist. You either elect to belong to a convention or you don't. A free standing Baptist church is under no obligation to join a convention or to recognize any conscience but its own.

    AFF
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 10
    Some Baptist congregations (or associations) in these parts license a person to preach prior to ordination. It may even be part of the ordination discernment process—sort of an apprentice or trial period.
  • I agree with GG and others: the local church here of which I am part will have its party line.

    There is however an engagement in the "here" and "now" (space and time) that may not be as easily facilitated by something written down in the then and there.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Baptist Trainfan has mentioned "the discussions". I shudder. I have been subject to "the discussion" (in small groups) after the sermon in days past and I was not impressed. I always ended up with the kook who thought God had imparted them a special message they felt compelled to share. Or the ever-handy, inspiring and helpful response, "It does show how God loves us and that we need to be Saved™."

    At least these give some guiding questions, but I feel this would be suited to a Bible study or coffee discussion and not a service. But that is me.

    No problem with prepared homilies. But I'll pass on the discussion, thanks.

    For those who like the discussions, how do you see them working? As a congregation? In small groups? How do you stop the village loon taking control and explaining how the Parable of the Tares predicts the UN and World Government?
  • I know that some folk heartily dislike discussion; and I can't personally see them fitting into (say) Morning Prayer. However I was merely repeating what the resource itself suggests: "Each week’s material is based on the Gospel reading from the Common Worship lectionary, and contains ... a brief homily that is designed to stimulate discussion and ... some questions that you might use ...".
  • The words used in my Baptist congregation were "ordained" and "lay". The lay ministry had just as much legitimacy as the ordained ministry, because Baptists are by definition a "priesthood of believers ministering to one another".

    A central ecclesiastical authority is anathema to a Baptist. You either elect to belong to a convention or you don't. A free standing Baptist church is under no obligation to join a convention or to recognize any conscience but its own.

    AFF
    I'm not in a Baptist church, but also lacking (if, a lack it is) any central ecclesiastical authority. But, we still don't have a free-for-all when it comes to who preaches. The Elders are responsible for ensuring there's a preacher (though in theory the Church Meeting can over-rule and ask that someone not be invited or ask for someone to be), and will invite people to preach - whether the ordained minister, lay members of the congregation, or people (lay or ordained) from other places. In drawing up the preaching rota the Elders will, naturally, lean towards people who are known to be able preachers - either from experience or because they carry some form of qualification (the denomination runs courses to train lay preachers, and certify that that training has been adequately demonstrated, and of course if someone has had a similar training elsewhere that would be OK). The process is nowhere near as formal as issuing a license to preach - but the effect is similar.

  • Climacus wrote: »
    Baptist Trainfan has mentioned "the discussions". I shudder. I have been subject to "the discussion" (in small groups) after the sermon in days past and I was not impressed. I always ended up with the kook who thought God had imparted them a special message they felt compelled to share. Or the ever-handy, inspiring and helpful response, "It does show how God loves us and that we need to be Saved™."

    At least these give some guiding questions, but I feel this would be suited to a Bible study or coffee discussion and not a service. But that is me.

    No problem with prepared homilies. But I'll pass on the discussion, thanks.

    For those who like the discussions, how do you see them working? As a congregation? In small groups? How do you stop the village loon taking control and explaining how the Parable of the Tares predicts the UN and World Government?
    IME, the problem with discussions as part of the "ministry of the word" isn't to do with one individual hogging the time, much less expressing some loonier ideas. The problem would be getting anyone to say anything at all. It will be a period of silence at the end of the sermon, or if anyone spoke up it would be the result of a lot of hard work on the part of the service leader ... work that would make writing a decent sermon seem very simple.
  • Some Baptists would be unhappy even with the terms "lay" and "ordained" ... but that's for another discussion at another time! More to the point, in denominations such as the Baptists and URC there are some folk who have in some way been "accredited" as lay preachers, probably because they have done some "recognised" training; alongside others who are just known locally by the congregations but who may be very good worship leaders!
  • The answer is that AFF is probably right at least historically. We are talking Church of England here. Access to the pulpit has been historically been very controlled due to dissident groups: from classical separatism through Quakerism to Methodism.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I think in context, and if the acoustics permit, there's a good case for discussion/teaching after the sermon.

    However, I'm really hostile to the fashion for splitting people up into small groups. I don't know where it came from, and I don't think it works. I'd even go so far as to say it's bad theology. If there is someone who has something worthwhile to say, then everyone should get the benefit of it. If it doesn't merit being shared with everyone, then why does it merit being shared with just a selection. Likewise, if someone has a question, then that too should be shared with everyone, so everyone can get the benefit of the answer.

    Besides, splitting people into small groups means anyone who can't hear properly in the first place, has to listen against the babble of other conversations going on round them.
  • I'm quite familiar with Baptist policies, AFF and have been a member of a Baptist church in the past. I don't have any issue with how Baptists run their churches.

    And yes, historically, Jengie Jon has a point in that the CofE did clamp down on dissenters in the past. But that was then and this is now ...

    As far as Pharisaisism, goes, no religious grouping is entirely free of that, nor are any of us as individuals. There can also be a form of inverted Pharisaisism - 'I thank God I'm not like those nasty Baptists / Anglicans / Methodists / Pentecostals / Catholics [add any other Church or denomination as appropriate] over there ...'

    The point I'm making is that whether we adopt some kind of centralised ecclesial authority or a more delegated or informal one, there's still some kind of accepted 'rule' in place as for who does what and when.

    Context is key.

    The use of prepared homilies ain't going to work in a setting like EM's or Baptist Trainfan's because the context is different. It might just, just work in the Anglican Diocese of Lincoln because the context differs from theirs.

    Even there, as I've suggested upthread, there will be parishes where it wouldn't work - or mighn't be needed. Which is fine. Nobody's going to come round on a witch-hunt to identify parishes where the set homilies aren't in use.

    On EM's point about the 'here and now' aspect, I'm sure there are parishes within the Diocese of Lincoln which have lay-readers and others who are perfectly capable of bringing that element to bear.

    But what about those parishes where, for whatever reason, the necessary conditions and factors aren't in place to facilitate that?

    Surely the prepared homily thing, if not ideal, is better than nothing?

    At the risk of a tangent, I also think the 'here and now' element can be over-stated. I don't feel I'm losing out on any 'here and now' aspect because I tend to use set prayers rather than extemporary ones these days - although I do use both, of course. If we're dealing with 'timeless truths' then a homily prepared two months ago rather than last Thursday afternoon ain't going to do us much harm.

    Heck, if we were only going on whatever was concocted last Wednesday then we'd never read Chrysostom's homilies, Spurgeons' sermons or whatever else is older than last week's newspaper.

    But I take his point.

    That said, am I right to detect an element on this thread of people from various church traditions expecting everyone else to conform in some way with their own practice?

    AFF might do well to reflect that not all churches are Baptist churches. Just as many Anglicans would do well to reflect that not all churches are like theirs.

    I wouldn't expect a Baptist church to behave like an Anglican parish church in rural Lincolnshire. Why should Baptists, or ex-Baptists on these boards expect the Diocese of Lincoln to behave like they do?

    When in Rome ... ;)

    On Baptist Trainfan's point about discussion - I quite agree, very hard to pull off.

    There're plenty of cack-handed attempts these days to introduce a discussion element into Anglican morning worship. I've yet to see anywhere which has managed to pull it off successfully. It's very difficult to do, even in a non-conformist or Free Church setting.

    My suspicion, at the risk of sounding too cynical (if that were possible) is that the Diocesan authorities have added the codicil about facilitating discussion as something of a forlorn hope. I'd be very surprised if they entertained realistic expectations of that actually happening in practice.

    In most MoTR and liberal parishes I know, people would run a mile barefoot over hot coals rather than engage in some kind of discussion during or after a service.

  • Enoch wrote: »
    I think in context, and if the acoustics permit, there's a good case for discussion/teaching after the sermon.

    However, I'm really hostile to the fashion for splitting people up into small groups. I don't know where it came from, and I don't think it works. I'd even go so far as to say it's bad theology. If there is someone who has something worthwhile to say, then everyone should get the benefit of it. If it doesn't merit being shared with everyone, then why does it merit being shared with just a selection. Likewise, if someone has a question, then that too should be shared with everyone, so everyone can get the benefit of the answer.

    Besides, splitting people into small groups means anyone who can't hear properly in the first place, has to listen against the babble of other conversations going on round them.

    Sorry, I missed Enoch's contribution before I posted. I couldn't agree more.

    There's a faddy fashion for breaking up into small groups to discuss things during Anglican services in some quarters. It doesn't work.

    I remember one occasion some years ago in our parish where the groups had to field a spokesperson to feed back to everyone else the fruits of their labours and collective wisdom.

    To my horror, one of the groups opined that, 'the reason we can all relate to Jesus is because he isn't God. He's like God, he's the Son of God, but he isn't actually God ...'

    The vicar was dumbstruck and simply passed on to the next group. There was a polite round of applause for the group's contribution and things moved on.

    I was horrified. I almost stood up and heckled but let the moment pass and tackled the spokesperson from the group in the narthex afterwards. He wasn't best pleased, although I was very polite and directed him towards the historic Creeds.

    I emailed the vicar later and he reacted badly. He didn't want me confronting or gainsaying new people in future in case I frightened them away ... the group where the heresy was openly promoted was largely made up of newcomers and new converts.

    Ok, don't get me wrong, the vicar is thoroughly Trinitarian in his public presentation but he could easily have intervened without embarrassing the participants in the discussion group.

    'Thank you for that contribution, Fred, but a belief that Jesus is God is a central one for the Christian faith - we can discuss it in more detail at some point ... but thank you for your comments this morning ...'

    Yes, it's poor practice. Poor theology too.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    AFF - do these examples help your understanding?

    1. In a rugby game, I make a late tackle. Not surprisingly, I am penalised by the referee with a penalty being given to the opponent. If I've done this a couple of times or it was a particularly egregious breach, I may even be sent off for 15 minutes. But the police aren't concerned at all, even though many at the game would call may action illegal. I don't go to gaol.

    2. Again, in a rugby game, I punch an opponent in the face. I'd be sent off for the rest of the game and probably penalised afterwards with a banning for the rest of the season. Many would call my action illegal. But the police may well think the same and I could be prosecuted in a criminal court for my action.

    Example 1 is purely internal, much as licensing is within the church. Example 2 is both internal and external. It would not be wrong though to call my action in each example illegal.

  • IereusIereus Shipmate
    The Orthodoxen can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm of the understanding that a similar arrangement exists in rural Greece. Where a priest isn't present regularly there are fellas licensed to read services in their stead, although not to celebrate the Eucharist.

    I might be wrong, but they may be permitted to distributed elements that have already been consecrated. Someone can put me straight on that one.

    It's long puzzled me why the CofE doesn't adopt a similar practice, if indeed this is the practice in Greece.

    As to whether reading a committee's shared essay is as exciting as the sermon a minister has freshly baked that week - it depends on the minister!

    ;)

    I can understand non-conformist qualms about such practices but really, am I to trouble myself unduly whether I'm following a particular party-line or not by praying an Anglican Daily Office, say or following the Readers' Daily Matins in an Orthodox prayer book or following Northumbria Community Prayers or the set daily prayers from a Roman Missal?

    If I attended EM's church this coming Sunday I'd be toe-ing a particular party-line, the one that runs through the middle of his congregation.

    Same if I attended Baptist Trainfan's church or anyone else's church.

    Anyhow, coming back to the OP, I think it's an interesting initiative but whether or not it'll have any effect or do any good remains to be seen.

    It'd very much depend on the individual parish, I suspect. If they pick it up and run with it then they might make it work. If they don't, then they won't.

    There is no provision in the Church of Greece, or any Greek Orthodox Church in the diaspora, for a member of the laity to distribute the Presanctified Holy Gifts, anytime, ever. Deacons may distribute Holy Communion to the ill with the Parish Priest’s specific blessing. In Greek Orthodoxy, deacons cannot lead public services with distribution of Holy Communion - although I have heard that other Orthodox jurisdictions allow this.

    I think what Gamma is thinking of is the practice in Greece of some priests not being preachers/theologians, thus not authorized to preach, unless reading a prepared homily sent to him. This is due to quite a few priests there not receiving a graduate degree in theology. In the US, it’s required for priests to have at least an MDiv degree, so all are considered theologians.

    Any deacon or layperson may lead what are called Readers Services: a simplified version of Vespers or Matins. However, these aren’t too common as public worship in Greek Orthodox parishes.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 10
    Going back to the link in the OP, it does look as though Lincoln is simply handing out a few questions for people hearing the prepared homilies to think about.

    If, as is possible in some cases, the gathered congregation is actually too small to break into workable groups (or perhaps is not keen on such things, anyway), might be it be feasible for these questions - or some of them - to be asked and discussed over tea/coffee/wine after the service?

    In default of a regular weekly (or whatever) home group, IYSWIM.

    IJ
  • Thanks Iereus, it sounds as if I conflated a few things and got the wrong end of the stick.
  • Yes, and it's an interesting twist, IYSWIM, to think that some Greek priests are OK to celebrate the Liturgy, but not regarded as trained sufficiently to preach.

    Harking back to Cranmer's time, perhaps, and the perceived need to produce a Book of Homilies!

    Most Shipmates will, I don't doubt, have experienced services (in many churches, of all types), where the minister, although able to lead the service competently enough, has been an absolute disaster when preaching....

    IJ
  • Strangely enough, I knew an older Baptist minister whose leading of the service was dire. However, when the sermon started - wow!
  • That wouldn't surprise me. I've often said that some of the best sermons I've heard have been preached by Baptists.
  • Which, perhaps, underlines the need to harness the talents of the laity, and not to rely on the talents (real or imagined) of the clergy!

    IJ
  • Both / and ...

    ;)
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.

    I understand the context, I'm just bothered by the legalism.

    AFF

    It is against church law, not secular law. So there could not be criminal proceedings in a secular court.

    Canon law ia part of the law of the land.
  • I attended early morning MP in my old parish about a year ago. No clergy available, and as a visitor I simply sat in the pew. I know the Reader, and I know he is not authorized to preach. He did so anyway, and made hash of things, spouting off his own particular uninformed opinion, which included his spouting anger at the bishop, to the point that one visitor (not me!) rose to argue it out with him, only to be shouted down by the Reader that this was not a free for all. A prepared, authorized homily or discussion notes, prepared by someone who knows what they were doing, is far preferable.
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    Leo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.

    I understand the context, I'm just bothered by the legalism.

    AFF

    It is against church law, not secular law. So there could not be criminal proceedings in a secular court.

    Canon law ia part of the law of the land.
    Indeed, but breach of canon law is not, as Gee D notes, a crime.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited August 10
    Leo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    I'm just having a problem with the word "licensed" - which implies that it would be illegal to do something without a permit.

    I understand the context, I'm just bothered by the legalism.

    AFF

    It is against church law, not secular law. So there could not be criminal proceedings in a secular court.

    Canon law ia part of the law of the land.

    Not in most countries.
  • A Feminine ForceA Feminine Force Shipmate
    edited August 11
    Gee D wrote: »
    AFF - do these examples help your understanding?

    1. In a rugby game, I make a late tackle. Not surprisingly, I am penalised by the referee with a penalty being given to the opponent. If I've done this a couple of times or it was a particularly egregious breach, I may even be sent off for 15 minutes. But the police aren't concerned at all, even though many at the game would call may action illegal. I don't go to gaol.

    2. Again, in a rugby game, I punch an opponent in the face. I'd be sent off for the rest of the game and probably penalised afterwards with a banning for the rest of the season. Many would call my action illegal. But the police may well think the same and I could be prosecuted in a criminal court for my action.

    Example 1 is purely internal, much as licensing is within the church. Example 2 is both internal and external. It would not be wrong though to call my action in each example illegal.

    Like, I understand contact sports need a governing body and a rule book for conduct because people get hurt, cheat, etc. But for standing in front of a group of grown people who are compos mentis and able to discern for themselves the relevance of the content and context, and speaking one's heart and mind about the holy writ? I don't get it but OK if you feel like this is something that needs to be approved, permitted or sanctioned by a governing body.

    Everybody does Christianity differently.

    Legalism has always been my sticking point and in part explains why I have been 10 years absent from any congregation. Not even the Baptists were exempt, despite their profession of "soul competency" and freedom of conscience.

    I guess it's my INTJ showing it's arse. Everything is fine until it doesn't make sense, and then I just can't with it. It's all good - you have to do Christianity in the way that best suits you.

    AFF
  • Sure, but with any form of religious observance there have to be checks and balances. How did Waco happen? How did the Jonestown Massacre happen?

    Ok, I'm not saying that unless you have properly accredited and sanctioned speakers or representatives at all times and in all places you're on a slippery slope towards the Kool-Aid ...

    But just as there were rubrics and regulations for worship in the Tabernacle and Temple so any faith group today, be it Baptist, Methodist, Quaker, Anglican, Catholic or whatever else is going to develop its own set of internal rules and regulations, checks and balances.

    Where legitimate guidelines and frameworks end and constrictive legalism begins is a moot point and likely to vary according to a whole range of criteria. It's all down to context.

    I've seen Anglo-Catholic parishes where the worship appears choreographed with almost military precision. I've seen independent evangelical and charismatic congregations which look free and easy and informal but which rule their members' lives with a rod of iron.

    There's a lot of elasticity on most places, though. It depends on context.

    Even if we decide to 'go it alone' I doubt we'd escape our own individual propensities for legalism and Pharisaism, albeit directed in whatever directions come with the particular territory we inhabit.

    I'm involved with local politics and I see all manner of Puritanical and Pharisaical behaviour among some political activists with no religious affiliation whatsoever.

    It can happen everywhere and anywhere. I've seen it in sport, in the arts, in politics and community activism, in feminist and ecological movements - anywhere where there's people.

    It's just something we have to steer our way through whatever we are involved with.
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