Holy Communion and Online Worship
The 2021 Conference adopted a period of discernment from 1 September 2021 until 31 August 2024, in which presbyters and other persons authorised to preside at the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper be permitted to lead celebrations of Holy Communion in which some or all of the worshippers gather together through electronic means. It directed all those who preside at such celebrations to consider prayerfully the guidance in the report in their preparation and conduct of them. This guidance can be found here.
All those presiding at services of online communion should also observe the following parameters: that any such services should
- be limited to participation at a common time (as opposed to, for example, viewing a recorded service later); and
- have the permission of the Circuit Superintendent (eg through being appointed on the Plan) or, in the case of projects not directly linked to a Circuit, the District Chair;
- be in the context of public worship.
No one should be required to preside at such a service against their own convictions and where there is disparity between the views and aspirations of presbyters and the churches of which they have pastoral charge, the circuit staff should consider together how this can best be managed, while respect the convictions of all.
Following the Conference some further guidance regarding the conduct of services of online communion has been issued. See Guidance for conducting services of Holy Communion online.
The 2020 Conference encouraged local churches to reflect on their response to deprivation in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deprivation is a term used in the Methodist church when there is not reasonably frequent and regular celebration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; but it points to the broader meaning of deprivation.
To assist local churches in this, it directed the Faith and Order Committee, as a matter of urgency, to produce guidance on acts of Holy Communion in our current context, including reflection “on ways in which appropriate online participation in services of Holy Communion might be encouraged”.
This guidance therefore seeks to encourage reflection on deprivation and on the sacrament of Holy Communion, as well as providing practical guidance and suggestions so as to enable Holy Communion to be celebrated in safe and appropriate ways. Further and current practical guidance in the light of government guidelines can be found on the Coronavirus Guidance pages.