The tone of some recent letters addressing the issue of communicating in churches of other denominations is distressing. Different and sometimes contradictory ways of understanding the nature and purpose of what is variously called the divine liturgy, mass, eucharist, communion, and Lord’s supper remain an inescapable part of Christian history. Whenever we visit a church other than our own, our response to those differences requires respect and courtesy. It also requires sufficient knowledge to avoid perjuring our own consciences or violating the integrity of someone else’s manner of comprehension and form of worship.
Some branches of Christianity aver that during the eucharist, bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Others have denied that there is any change in the nature of the eucharistic elements.
It is advisable to make oneself known to the clergy before the start of the service and to ask permission to communicate. There is always an option to abstain from communicating if there is any doubt about compatibility of belief with regard to the eucharist. What is essential is the avoidance of any temptation to force our own understanding of the eucharist onto someone else’s, especially in his or her church! Ultimately, the matter is one of love and respect for God our Creator and for our neighbour.
K. Corey Keeble
Let them do the time
I have just finished watching on television and reading the comments of Archbishop Peers and Minister Goodale in the Journal. I feel compelled to comment.
Without question the actions of members of the church that were perpetrated upon Canadian natives is of the most reprehensible kind. They should be dealt with severely and promptly.
The premise that a group should be forced to pay for a few individuals’ actions is equally reprehensible. Why is it that a few members of the government and church are now shifting the burden of their sins onto the rest of society? They did the crime; let them alone do the time.
Do you honestly think you can buy your way into heaven, or that by giving away other people’s money this will bring a solution? Is that a biblically-based solution, or simply a way of buying the silence of those you abused in the past? I can only hope that none of this is rooted in church doctrine.
A few members of the church and state acted wrongly. Why should the rest of us, taxpayers, Anglican or otherwise, be forced to pay a nickel for their mistakes? Two wrongs do not make a right.
Brian J. Dodds
The former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey admonished “dioceses and bishops taking unilateral action.” He cited New Westminster’s local option to synodically sanction same-sex unions’ blessing.
During his final sermon to the diocese of Texas, Archbishop Carey said, “The church is a community of the unlike-minded. You didn’t choose your family, and you didn’t choose the people you worship with. One chooses one’s friends, but God gives who sits next to you in church, and we have to put up with one another, because we are God’s natural family, making a world of difference.”
On Sept. 29, Archbishop Carey preached his farewell sermon in Canterbury Cathedral. “When communities become obsessed with putting rules, convention and tradition before people, they become all too quickly conditional communities. And churches are not immune from this tendency – far from it.” He spoke of transforming communities, characterized by hope. Yet one of his sadnesses was to receive letters from hurt people that had to do with clergy’s refusals to baptize and to marry. “The Gospel is incorrigibly reckless, irredeemably open and profligate in its generosity.”
What are we to make of the apparent contradictions in these utterances? Self-indulgent hyperbole? Breathtaking disingenuousness? Or just failing memory?
David G. Hawkins
Scripture in context
Bishop Michael Ingham has been subjected to considerable abuse in recent months from those who accuse him of failing to adhere to particular scriptural passages. Yet how many of his critics are themselves willing to accept as “divinely revealed truth” every single verse in the Bible? Consider for example the text from Leviticus, which prescribes that no person who is lame, blind, has broken bones, or any blemish may “come nigh unto the altar” (Leviticus 21: 17-23).
Nearly all adult Anglicans realize that certain scriptural passages must be placed in context and not regarded as literal revelations of God’s will.
Bishop Ingham’s critics should halt their verbal onslaught and acknowledge their own departures from fundamentalism.
Stick to biblical truth
I am writing in response to two articles that appeared in the November 2002 Anglican Journal in response to my letter titled “Disturbed by Rowan.”
In response to the letter by Todd Townshend, I don’t feel that I am parading ignorance publicly, as he has intimated. I feel that liberalism is slowly overtaking many of the formerly conservative views of the church, most of which were Bible-based.
This could be the reason why traditional churches are losing membership to the more traditional Bible based Baptist and Pentecostal churches. I am, however, willing to give Archbishop Williams time to establish his presence in Canterbury before I formulate my final opinion of his agenda.
In response to the second letter, written by Rene Jamieson, I offer the following rebuttal. Even if my surname (Hughes) is of Welsh origin, I am a fifth or sixth generation Canadian. I have never been in Wales. Why, then, would I have a great knowledge of Welsh culture and folklore?
The Gorsedd (gathering) of Druids was originally established among the Celts of ancient England. Although modern versions have emerged, they still tend to worship natural or inanimate objects.
As far as I am aware, no other potential Archbishop of Canterbury participated in a Druid ceremony.
The church would be well advised to stick to basic, proven biblical truths, or risk losing many members in the future.
Sense of alienation
George Vona (Journal, November 2002) wants to know how exactly homosexual unions undermine marriage. Persons who seek or are involved in same-sex unions will have undermined marriage in at least one, frequently more, of the following ways: they will have betrayed a spouse, deserted offspring, confused adolescents going through the normal ambivalence of their time of life, blotched the Christian witness in society, violated the Christian consciences of all aware of their behaviour, permanently dead-ended their own and often another’s life, broken the heart of a heterosexual lover, failed to give marriage to some man or maiden, reinforced their own emotional coldness and ruthless selfishness, failed to labour and sacrifice so that children might be born to serve God and the world.
At the very least, they will have harmed themselves by deepening instead of seeking healing for their emotional neediness, which is observably present in many such persons, and is arguably in most cases the root of which homosexual desire is the fruit; and harmed themselves even more by putting themselves by biologically bizarre and sexist behaviour into a position where it is natural to feel a sense of alienation from the Creator of one’s body.
A sad reflection
Judging by the prominence you give to the subject of homosexuality, one would think that 90 per cent of Anglicans must be homosexuals. The fact is homosexuals are a small minority. So why give the subject so much space?
I do not care whether the person sitting next to me in church is a homosexual or not. This is a matter between him or her and God. If Bishop Ingham thinks it is right to bless so-called same-sex unions, let him. Why make it front page news?
At a time when Christianity is facing serious challenges, when Christians are being slaughtered by the hundreds in some countries, when millions are starving, when atrocities are being committed against the poor and dispossessed, and when the world is threatened by a disastrous and immoral war, all you can write about is homosexuality. A sad reflection indeed on your editorial staff.
I am the rector of one of the so-called dissident parishes which have declared a state of impaired communion with the diocese of New Westminster over the passage and episcopal assent to the motion on the blessing of same-sex relationships. From the very beginning of this dispute our parish along with the others has declared its intent and desire to remain within the Canadian Anglican community.
One of the ways we have sought to make that a reality is to pay the national portion of our assessments directly to the General Synod offices. Those cheques have continued to be sent monthly, although none has been cashed to date.
The diocese of New Westminster blames those of us who are withholding diocesan assessment for its inability to meet its national financial responsibilities. This is not true. The diocese has requested that the national church not cash our assessment cheques while at the same time cashing cheques mailed directly to the diocesan office from individual members of the dissenting parishes who disagree with their parish and clergy’s position. There is clearly a double standard at work here.
This is combined with a deliberate misinformation campaign designed to garner national sympathy for the plight of the diocese, while blaming the dissenting parishes for a worsening financial situation that is a direct result of diocesan synod decisions and the bishop’s assent.
The truth makes a much better story.
Rev. Barclay Mayo
Pender Harbour, B.C.