03 April 2012

Children at the Table and Open Communion, or, the Agape Restaurant

Children at the Table and Open Communion, or, the Agape Restaurant (All Things Necessary, 26 March 2012)

Excerpts:
One of the unexpected elements of moving from worshipping in the context of the Episcopal Church to the Church of England is a different approach to the Eucharist. This has been more a difference of emphasis than of importance, but I think it points up divergent ecclesiologies between the two churches.

This experience of difference is felt most strongly for me at the local parish church my family attends. Two things stand out for me (keeping in mind that I came to the Episcopal Church about 15 years after the introduction of the 1979 BCP). First, the Eucharist is not celebrated as the primary service every week. Rather, once a week there is a type of Morning Prayer that is labelled ‘All Ages Worship’ and includes ‘family’ oriented songs and prayers. In practice, this is geared for those ten and under. That there could be a primary service without Eucharist reveals the broader approach to worship in the Church of England where there is more need to encompass a wider set of worship practices than one finds in the Episcopal Church.

But why no Eucharist at the All Ages Worship? Because it is not normal practice in the Church of England to communicate children. The norm is for children only to receive communion after confirmation. In 2006 regulations were introduced to permit diocesan bishops to allow parishes to communicate baptized prior to confirmation. Now about 15% of parishes do this as a regular practice.
Link: Children at the Table and Open Communion, or, the Agape Restaurant



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