Liturgy Man: How Can Congregations Without Authorized Presiders Celebrate The Sacraments Regularly?

welcome to this episode of QA with liturgy man i’m taylor burton edwards liturgy man with discipleship ministries of the United Methodist Church I’m your apportionment dollars at work to help you strengthen worship and the understanding of worship where you are this question comes to me from my predecessor in the role of director of worship resources at discipleship ministries and that is from Daniel Benedict who served in that role from 1992 until 2005 following after the 20-year ministry of Hoyt Hickman in that role and he wanted me to address the question of appropriate ways that congregations who do not have authorized presiders may be able to receive Holy Communion in light of the fact that it’s very clear in this holy mystery what ways are not appropriate to provide for this I’m using here the study edition provided by Gayle Carlton Felton page 53 here’s what the inappropriate ways are it says the practice of consecrating elements ahead of time for the convenience of the pastor not having to go to small or remote congregations weekend camps or other such occasions is in appropriate and contrary to our historic doctrine and understanding of how God’s grace is made available in the sacrament so this practice that is remains unfortunately widely practice of pre consecration is declared by our doctrinal statement on Holy Communion to be contrary to our historic doctrine and should not be continued that should be a closed door what are the open doors this holy mystery helpfully identifies three of them directly two of them it identifies on again looking at this study edition page 34 where it says attention should be given to the special needs of churches whose pastoral leadership is neither ordained nor licensed and it offers two options here both in which involved the DS working through some arrangements sometimes congregations as well of sometimes with congregations and other denominations here’s where it says cooperative parishes that is multiple United Methodist congregations brought together one of which would be at least one of which would include a an authorized presider on that team and ecumenical shared ministries where one of the presider is either United Methodist or another denomination is authorized to preside may offer patterns through which congregations could receive regular sacramental ministry as in page 34 and then later on page 44 there is this additional note about ways to involve not just elders an extension ministry but in fact all elders within a district it says elders who are an extension ministries and retired elders may be asked to preside when they are needed in local churches or on other sacramental occasions quote all conference members who are elders in full connection including those in extension ministries shall be available and on call to administer the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as required by the discipline and as requested by the district superintendent of the district in which the appointment is held so district superintendents already holds several keys to resolve this problem completely either by organizing cooperative parishes creating the opportunity for ecumenical shared ministries or simply putting all of the elders within their district onto a schedule a rota if you will that in which all the churches will have the opportunity to have one of the people who is part of that part of that district and is an authorized presider as an elder to serve Holy Communion on some kind of regular basis within the district so there’s a lot DSS can do and that this holy mystery specifically mentions I’ll mention a couple more things that could happen even if the DS is not in a position to organize this sort of thing elders you can and let me invite you to go ahead and start doing it look around you meeting it whenever you meet together as clustered groups or as ministerial associations in your area look around you and ask yourselves are there churches around here that lack an authorized presider how can I be part of the solution organize yourselves where you are to be part of a solution and let your DS know you have done it there’s nothing in the Book of Discipline that says you can’t do that go ahead and do it finally let me suggest this that is laity, laity if you’re in a church like this please accept no substitutes pre consecration is desecration according to our doctrine don’t allow for it call other elders in the area call your district superintendent call your bishop to account to make sure that you have the appropriate liturgical leadership the appropriate authorized presiders for the regular celebration of the sacraments as you need them where they where you are hope this has been helpful remember you can always contact me [email protected] through the UMC worship Facebook group or drop a line on this page and perhaps your question or comment may become the basis for a future episode of Q&A with liturgy man may the peace of Christ be always with you

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