New Anglican Church of Canada resource offers theological reflection for pandemic era

By on December 3, 2020

A new web page on the Anglican Church of Canada website offers a collection of theological essays that address the Eucharist and other spiritual practices in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Eucharistic Practice and Sacramental Theology in Pandemic Times: Reflections by Canadian Anglicans” includes theological writing from 44 pastors, educators, lay leaders and bishops from across the country and the Anglican Communion.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, with in-person gathering suspended in most areas of the country, Anglicans have faced decisions about how to conduct worship—whether to suspend celebration of the Eucharist, or adapt the Eucharist for online services.

The Faith, Worship and Ministry committee of General Synod began inviting submissions for theological reflection on eucharistic practice and sacramental theology in the spring of 2020, says the Rev. Eileen Scully, director of Faith, Worship and Ministry, who holds a Ph.D. from St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology.

The collected essays “include teachings about the spiritual foundations we need to cultivate during these times, reflections on congregational experience, and elucidations of core matters of doctrine,” Scully wrote in the preface to the collection.

While the scope and subject matter of the pieces vary, “[a]ll exhibit in some way the Anglican ethos that seeks to integrate pastoral, liturgical and theological concerns together,” she wrote.

The essays are organized into six categories:

  • Spiritual roots for stressful times
  • Learning in context: Congregational life and mission
  • Discipleship and mission
  • Theological foundations and journeys
  • Reflections from Ecumenical and Communion partners
  • Epilogue: A theology of lament and hope, Psalms for lament

The aim of the project was not to offer “positions on particular eucharistic practices and [weigh] in on their validity,” according to Scully. “Rather, it was our intention to invite a ‘going deeper’ set of considerations. In other words, instead of an approach that would directly address issues of pastoral and sacramental practice for the specific and unique time that is this pandemic time, we felt it important to invite reflections into the foundational matters of what our Eucharistic and sacramental theology is in the life of the church,” she wrote in her preface.

Scully told the Journal that she is “extremely grateful to all the writers who worked under pressures of time and pandemic conditions” to put the project together.

Scully is also working on a study guide with questions for discussion that will be available next week. The content of the website will also soon be available to download as a PDF for those who wish to read it in e-book form.

To read the full collection of essays, visit https://anglican.ca/faith/ministry/pandemic-times/

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Author

  • Joelle Kidd was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2017 to 2021.

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