Members of the Church’s ruling General Synod are being asked to give final approval to a change in ecclesiastical rules to allow children and worshippers who have not been confirmed to administer Holy Communion
Children as young as nine are set to administer bread and wine to worshippers during services of Holy Communion in the Church of England, under a proposed overhaul of canon law.
Members of the Church’s ruling General Synod are being asked to give final approval to a change in ecclesiastical rules today (Sunday) which would allow children and worshippers who have not been confirmed to administer the sacrament at eucharist services.
It comes despite fears from the Church’s most senior liturgical body that children could spill communion wine, which represents the blood of Christ. It would also mean children being invited to distribute alcohol in churches - almost a decade before they could legally drink it in a pub.
The change would further widen the gap between Anglican churches and Roman Catholic tradition in which communion wine is held in special reverence, believed to be the actual blood of Christ.
But the plan has received overwhelming support within the Church of England amid arguments that it would send out a signal that children are “fully included within the body of Christ”. Keep reading
What struck me about the argument made against children administering the cup at a celebration of Holy Communion was that it uses the same logic that was used to withhold the cup from the laity in the Middle Ages and eventually to limit the laity to receiving communion in only one kind--the bread--once a year. I have attended informal celebrations of the Holy Communion at which the bread and the cup were passed from hand to hand--from adults to children and so on. No crumbs were dropped even though real bread was used or wine spilled. While the Thirty-Nine Articles tell us that only those who are repentant and have a vital faith benefit from sharing the bread and cup, it is silent on who should distribute the bread and wine as are the Holy Scriptures. The Articles also take the position that the character of the minister does not affect the validity of the sacrament. This includes the minister's lack of a vital faith as well as his wickedness. The Prayer Book's restriction of the distribution of the element to particular ministers is purely a question of discipline, not doctrine. To maintain as some Roman Catholics do that priests and religious are the only appropriate persons to administer the elements is to maintain that the minister's character does affect the sacrament's validity and is an erroneous if not heretical belief.