Eastern Oregon Puts Forward Resolution Proposing Communion of the Unbaptized

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsTEC Polity & Canons* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptismEucharist

17 Comments
Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. C. Wingate wrote:

CWoB must go; this is non-negotiable.

March 24, 7:51 am | [comment link]
2. SC blu cat lady wrote:

I read the comments over at Episcopal Cafe. Truthfully I was quite surprised (given the liberal slant of that blog) that there were several comments against the idea. I agree. CwoB should never be the norm. It is non-negotiable.

I do understand that church is the place for sinners to come to learn about our Lord but sacraments need to be respected and explained so that those who do come to communion will have some understanding of what it all means. I am not saying that anyone fully understands communion but there should be some understanding. That understanding should come from the church.

There are better ways to express our hospitality if that is what they are truly after.

March 24, 9:11 am | [comment link]
3. c.r.seitz wrote:

Leaving aside the zero theological foundation, it’s hard to tell if this is doubly or triply condescending. It presumes to know why people might choose to stay away from church/Christianity on the basis of projected ideas (‘we are exclusive’). It presumes to change a sacramental ‘common prayer’ by a local resolution. It seeks to alter the very practice that might well give newcomers a sense that there was an integrity to what the church believed, and not just an alteration made to court them. And none of this appears to have registered. Marketeering Christianity and poorly done as well.

March 24, 9:51 am | [comment link]
4. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

Well, there actually is some theological basis to it. *I completely disagree with it, mind you.* But the only quasi-legitimate theological basis that I can see for it oddly is not what it often promulgated by the people in favor of it.

I would point you to some of the writings and preaching of John Wesley, of all people. He was adamant about using Communion as an Evangelism tool. From my readings of his thoughts on the matter, I think he is vague on whether one must be baptized or not. But certainly, with his whole “heart strangely warmed” when receiving Communion that time, he talked extensively about being dead spiritually before that. So, I think one could make an argument in that vein, particularly if one looked at some of the odd accounts in the Book of Acts where Paul comes upon people filled with the Spirit but have not heard of the Baptism of Jesus.

But, again, a Theology of Evangelism is not what is under girding this argument from the people in the modern Episcopal church. It’s an inclusion theology (or lack thereof) where people have a “right” to Communion even if unbaptized. I even heard a Bishop say from the pulpit that there is no substantive difference between offering Communion and offering a cup of coffee during coffee hour after church. (This went over like a lead balloon to a church with a monstrance on the altar while he was saying this.)

And, of course, the people in favor never have an answer to the following question: What then happens in the event where you need to legitimately ex-communicate someone for notorious sins? If you are offering Communion to someone who is openly unrepentant and unbaptized, how can you possibly deny Communion to someone who is baptized, though may be guilty of the most heinous of sins and unrepentant thereof. Are they going to give communion to someone who is openly beating their wife or is molesting children? I don’t think so, but therein is the problem.

March 24, 10:40 am | [comment link]
5. tjmcmahon wrote:

Why is it “non-negotiable” in Oregon but nobody bothered when N Michigan allowed it?  When it is openly practiced throughout TEC and has been for at least 10 years?  Sure, there are some bishops who will quietly transfer a priest out of their diocese when they catch him promoting it, but when was the last time anyone was actually disciplined- as in inhibited and deposed- for sacrilege?
Communion without baptism is openly supported by a number of bishops, deputies and executive council members.  If you want to ban it, go to GC and put some teeth into the canon that already bans it, but is openly violated in 60% of the dioceses.
Nothing is “non-negotiable” in TEC .

March 24, 10:44 am | [comment link]
6. c.r.seitz wrote:

As you say, what Wesley called an ‘ordinance’ is as far away from the logic of this resolution as the east is from the west.

March 24, 10:53 am | [comment link]
7. Nevin wrote:

This is just where TEC is headed.  I was fascinated by the responses the bishop candidates in Pittsburgh gave when asked about this issue in a recent walk-about.  Scott Quinn, supposedly the conservative candidate, said this was a “difficult” issue and he was open to it as “a local option”.  Stanley Runnels said open communion is practiced in his parish, he admits it violates the canons (but doesn’t care) and wouldn’t contest it if charges were brought against him.  Ruth Woodliff-Stanley said congregations should do “as they think best” but for herself she believes in “open baptism” (?!).  Michael Ambler says he personally does “not prevent” the unbaptized from taking communion and would not discipline a priest for offering open communion if he became bishop.  Dorsey McConnell, the priest from Massachusetts, did observe the practice was against the canons- but then failed to really address whether he would allow it.

March 24, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
8. Katherine wrote:

It won’t pass this summer, but in one or two more General Conventions it will be non-controversial.

March 24, 3:09 pm | [comment link]
9. Undergroundpewster wrote:

If it was unanimous in Oregon this year, then I agree with Katherine, it is only a matter of time. The “inclusion” explanation is having the effect that believing your own propaganda will have over time. Repeat it often enough, and it becomes accepted as fact.

March 24, 3:15 pm | [comment link]
10. driver8 wrote:

#4 Wouldn’t then great majority of people in eighteenth century England have been baptized as infants? I take Wesley’s encouragement to receive to be aimed not at those who were not baptized (since almost everyone in the England of his day was baptized) but at those members of Methodist Societies who were concerned that their faith was inadequate. That is, his point is that the eucharist is itself a means of grace.

March 24, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
11. Ad Orientem wrote:

Tjmcmahon in #5 is correct.  The practice is already widespread in TEO.  This battle is already over. All that remains to be decided is the timing for making it legal on paper. 

Perhaps ten years ago I was driving through a small town in upstate New York and happened upon two churches right next to each other on the main street.  One was Episcopalian and the other Unitarian.  I laughed so hard I had to pull over to avoid causing an accident. 

Redundancy epitomized.

March 24, 5:40 pm | [comment link]
12. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

Like I said, I don’t think it would be a convincing argument, but I think it could as least be based in something quasi-theological. There is no theological basis (scriptural or otherwise) as I see it for the current form.

March 24, 7:24 pm | [comment link]
13. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Let us not forget who is in Northern Michigan now that used to be in Eastern Oregon (by marriage and invited to preach and teach there) long enough to have significant influence.

John Wesley——if John Wesley’s practice is going to be a part of the “precedence’ argument for openly administering the sacrament to the unbaptized, then proponents will be making use of Wesley in the same way “they” (or “others” if not them) are making use of the Bible : cut and paste.  To re-use Dr Seitz’s phrase (and King David’s), Wesley’s sense and practice of evangelism itself is about as far away from understanding Holy Communion as a tool of such as the east is from the west.  Does anyone think that Wesley, theoretically administering Holy Communion to the unbaptized, really believe he would do so without a clear rehearsing of the necessity of believing in Jesus for salvation?  Or—- this ought to be good—- that such “radical sacramental hospitality”  isn’t intimately connected with ATONEMENT? 
I might add that if those who would otherwise carry the banner of the ‘liberal” side of the Church are beginning to quote scripture to argue why Communion to the Un-baptized should not be formulated in any way, then scriptural allies have been revealed and the situation needs to be seen as an opportunity to actually press a scriptural argument.

March 24, 9:01 pm | [comment link]
14. Statmann wrote:

I am reminded of the mouse that roared.  This Dio had about 1,100 ASA in 2010 with 22 churches for an average ASA of 50.  From 2002 through 2010 Marraiges declined by 52 percent and the 22 churches produced 14 Marraiges in 2010.  Infant Baptisms declined by 42 percent and tthe 22 churches produced 24 Infant Baptisms in 2010.  The Dio has no Cathedral and a half-time bishop.  BUT they do have Chutzpah Statmann

March 24, 9:04 pm | [comment link]
15. A Senior Priest wrote:

EO continues to exist merely as a result of 815’s largesse. Sometime in the past I was headhunted to be one of the candidates for EO’s bishop, but declined the moment I read in their self-study that they were not representative of the communities in which they lived, neither theologically nor politically, and they liked it that way. Obviously this faux diocese is not unlike the classical trust-fund liberal.

March 24, 11:37 pm | [comment link]
16. C. Wingate wrote:

re 14: I’d wondered about how bad their stats actually were. Based on the charts I came up with a mean ASA of around 45 and a median ASA of about 27. (BTW, there are 23 churches with charts, not 22: Kirk Hadaway must have slipped up.) I should note that there are lots of tiny parishes in which I could determine exact ASA simply by looking at the chart: five parishes have ASA less than 20. There are only two parishes with ASA over a hundred, and close to a fifth of diocesan ASA is contributed by a single parish in Bend.

I gather that E. Oregon, like N. Michigan, is an accident of 19th century travel difficulties which has long since ceased to have a reason for continuing. Merging it back into Oregon would make a diocese with < 100 parishes and 80-90 mean ASA.

March 25, 9:38 am | [comment link]
17. Statmann wrote:

#16   For the 22 charts listed by TEC for 2010 there are 18 with ASA of 65 or less and only 2 with Plate & Pledge of more than $150K.  (There were 23 charts for 2009. )  EO may fear thaat a merger would lead to the closure of its small chyrches.  Oregon has its own problems with Marraiges down 27 percent and Infant Baptisms down 37 percent since 2002.  Statmann

March 25, 6:25 pm | [comment link]
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