By Maureen Wright
A number of our churches have asked for guidance about celebrating communion in this time of the coronavirus pandemic. As pastoral leaders gathered by Zoom last week, my initial response was no due to the fact that our tradition and the Directory for Worship start with God’s people gathering physically at the Lord’s Table. It has been a week of back and forth, with Mid Council leaders discussing the issue, the Office of the General Assembly issuing a confusing opinion, and the Advisory Committee on the Constitution of the PC(USA) offering another opinion.
On March 24, the Office of the General Assembly issued a longer, clearer Advisory Opinion (AO). On Thursday, the day this newsletter was initially posted, the Office of Theology and Worship offered supplemental guidance to the AO.
Essentially, it is up to the pastoral leader and the session to determine the best path for a particular church. Some churches will prefer to have people gather elements in their home and lead in communion through a video connection. Other churches will prefer to delay communion until they are all able to gather physically around the Lord’s Table. Neither of these are mandated or prohibited. Sessions and pastoral leaders are encouraged to discern which option best meets the needs of the mission and ministry of the particular church, as well as its traditions and rituals.
I am available for consultation on the issue. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who are interested in pre-packaged communion elements, several sources can be found on our COVID-19 information page (last item under Resources for Online Worship). The Presbytery does not endorse any of these companies, but offers the links to assist those interested in purchasing this product.