Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist
Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist
Within the relationship of full communion, participation together in the Holy Communion is an important mark of the full communion we now share. To encourage celebrations of Holy Eucharist in congregations and other gatherings of the church, the following mutually agreed upon guidelines are provided.
- It is important that a spirit of graciousness and commonality mark the planning of a service for assemblies of our two churches, including all of the details of the celebration. This planning is best done well in advance of the common celebration. It should include ordained and lay leaders from each of the participating churches. Liturgical leadership also should include the ordained ministers and laity of both churches. Planning offers an opportunity for participants to develop familiarity with and appreciation for the liturgical traditions of the participating churches as they are embodied in the worship books of each. These include: Lutheran Book of Worship and With One Voice (ELCA); The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982, as well as Wonder, Love, and Praise (ECUSA). Other resources are available from both churches.
- In The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, approval of a bishop (diocesan or synodical) or presiding bishop may be necessary for special worship services outside congregations. Planners need to be alert to these polity requirements so that the tradition of each participating church is respected. The bishop may request a report containing such things as: attendance, the order of service, and a listing of presiding minister, assisting ministers, and preacher.
- Mutual respect between our churches is enhanced and nurtured when the parity of ministries in the churches is manifested in sacramental worship. This principle should inform planning as well as leadership in the actual celebration. Within the context of our full communion, choosing one presiding minister to offer the eucharistic prayer recognizes the mutuality of our ministries. The participation by lay and ordained ministers of both churches in the distribution of Holy Communion also serves this sign.
- Planners need to be sensitive to the fact that the manner in which communion is distributed varies widely from congregation to congregation. What is comfortable and familiar to one community may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar to another. Care should be taken that the manner of distribution be understood clearly by all.
- Ordained ministers are encouraged to vest in the manner appropriate to their tradition or as agreed in the planning of the service. The alb, stole, and chasuble, or alb and stole are vestments common to both our traditions for Holy Communion.
- Persons charged with the responsibility for planning liturgical celebrations in our churches are called upon to exercise great care. Planners are encouraged to consider carefully the following possibilities:
- When the service is hosted by a particular church (The Episcopal Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) or a congregation of that church, that church's rite is used. An ordained minister from the other church presides. An ordained minister of the host church preaches. Note: The purpose of these guidelines is to encourage frequent sharing of Holy Communion as an expression of full communion. Should a pastor or priest of either church be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the rite for celebration in the other church, he or she should be invited to preach at the joint celebration rather than preside.
- When the service is an occasion where no one church body acts as host, the form of service may be an adapted form of the liturgy prepared for the inauguration of full communion by the churches on Epiphany 2001, printed on pages xxx of these guidelines.
- Drawing liturgical materials from sources of both churches in the planning of a service is a special challenge. The integrity and coherence of each church's rite depends upon not simply picking and choosing among comparable elements, but understanding the deep structures and logic inherent in The Book of Common Prayer and Lutheran Book of Worship and their supplements. For example, the books of both churches use headings and other descriptors which are not common to both churches. Planners will need to consult carefully to be sure that decisions reflect this integrity and coherence.
- Another important way to express the relationship of full communion is for congregations to share the form of worship they ordinarily use by inviting members of the other church to worship with them on a regular or an occasional basis.
- When the Holy Eucharist is celebrated together, the service needs to offer the Gospel by Word and Sacrament to all the baptized present. All those welcome at the table in their own churches should be welcomed in a shared service, subject to the eucharistic practices of the churches from which visitors may come.
- It is important for planners to remember that in full communion, both churches have agreed that they will continue to honor the governing documents of the other church body participating in shared worship. Care to honor the canons, constitutions, and policies of both our churches is important.