With thanks to the Rt Revd Dr Ian Coutts, our diocesan bishop, for permission to share his response to our diocese on this matter.
Please may I begin by thanking everyone for carefully heeding the Covid requirements and restrictions that have been keeping us all so safe. As you will know, these restrictions were not lifted on 24 October and thus they remain in force.
At our recent Synod, a Motion was passed requesting “the Bishop, with whatever counsel he deems appropriate, to investigate, and if possible implement options for safe and hygienic administration of communion of both kinds, in order that we can be consistent with the tenets of our faith.”
I have carefully investigated this matter, talked with a number of key people, produced two drafts of what it might look like, seen a wonderful video produced by Revd Geoff Chadwick on how Holy Communion might be conducted hygienically, and discussed this matter at our Clergy Conference this week.
The conclusion I have come to, however, is that for now we should continue as we are doing, in one kind only.
There are five main reasons why I have come to this conclusion.
- It is not unprecedented to receive Holy Communion in one kind only – this occurred during the Flu pandemic after the First World War in Australia, and provision existed for it in the Book of Common Prayer due to the Plague in England. Receiving in one kind only is regarded by the Anglican Church as entirely sufficient. Article XXX does state the Common Cup should not be denied to lay people but the provisions for not receiving Holy Communion wine in times of pandemic have superceded this particular Article on previous occasions.
- We are legally not able to use a Common Cup, and it is not safe to do so. Although I have looked at a number of ways in which we might use individual cups, or pre-intinct wafers, I have not found any one method that appears entirely safe, and/or seemly. The increase in numbers at Christmas services might make this even more difficult.
- The controlled re-opening of WA’s ‘hard border’ with parts of Australia tonight, and the likely increase in returning international travellers brings a new greater risk of a Covid outbreak in WA after 7 months of no community transmission.
- Archbishop Kay and the majority of Metropolitans in Australia are maintaining Holy Communion in one kind only.
- Not all of our churches wish to receive in both kinds at present and whilst it might have been possible to have some parishes where both kinds did occur and some where it did not, the considerations in paras. 1-4 above have persuaded me to remain as we are for all parishes for the time being.
I know this will come as a disappointment to a number of people. The Revd Sue Lodge-Calvert reflected gently and powerfully that in “our longing and yearning” to be able to celebrate and receive Holy Communion in both kinds we might turn this heartfelt experience into prayer for all those who are suffering from Covid 19 more than we are.
Where parishes share with Uniting congregations who are still receiving in both kinds, it is entirely up to Anglicans to receive as they think fit in Uniting led services, but we will continue not to administer wine in Anglican led Holy Communion services.
Rt Revd Dr Ian Coutts
Anglican Diocese of Bunbury