Can we receive both bread and wine during the pandemic?

Andrew Goddard writes: The inability to share a common cup due to Covid-19 has resulted in the withdrawal of wine at Holy Communion and the claim that administration of wine in individual cups is contrary to law in the Church of England.  This was reaffirmed in answer to a Synod question on Saturday.  This article highlights the historical and theological significance of communion in both kinds in Anglicanism.  It then explains the 1547 Sacrament Act to show the flaws in the arguments of that Synod answer before offering further critiques of the legal opinion on which that answer was based.  It argues that individual cups are not contrary to law and that refusal to offer communion in both kinds is theologically significant given Anglican doctrine.  The bishops therefore urgently need to review the situation and open up the possibility, if desired and able to be safely administered, of congregations using individual cups until a common cup can be restored.


On Tuesday we will have a celebration of the Lord’s Supper at St James the Less in Pimlico for the first time since lockdown.  For all except the presiding minister, however, it will be communion “in one kind” i.e. only one of the two elements will be offered to the congregation.  In the current situation it is clearly unwise to drink from the same cup as other people and so wine will not be offered to worshippers.  This will not be new.  We had already withdrawn the cup for several weeks, even before the formal advice to do so by the Archbishops on 10th March, as Westminster had one of the earliest cases of Covid-19.  Nevertheless, the prospect of this being the situation for many months, perhaps even a year or more, raises the question as to why ways cannot be found for the congregation to receive wine as well as bread.

Anglicanism and Communion in Both Kinds

It is easy to forget the importance of receiving both bread and wine within Anglican, and wider Reformation, theology and liturgy.  Article 30 of the 39 Articles (introduced in the 1563 revision of the Articles, following the 1562 Council of Trent justifying the medieval practice of only giving bread to the laity) is entitled “Of Both Kinds”.  It reads:

The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike. 

This was in line with wider Reformation practice and restored the practice of the early church.  Whether or not communion was offered in both kinds was one of the shifting practices through the English Reformation.  The Six Articles of 1539 continued medieval practice but the Prayer Books of Edward VI in 1549 and 1552 legalised communion in both kinds following the Sacrament Act of 1547 discussed below.  This was then reversed under Mary but restored under Elizabeth as articulated in Article 10 of The Eleven Articles of 1559:

I am of that mind also, that the holy communion or sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, for the due obedience to Christ’s institution, and to express the virtue of the same, ought to be ministered unto the people under both kinds; and that it is avouched by certain fathers of the church to be a plain sacrilege, to rob them of the mystical cup, for whom Christ hath shed his most precious blood, seeing he himself hath said, “Drink ye all of this:” considering also, that in the time of the ancient doctors of the Church, as Cyprian, Hierom [Jerome], Augustine, Gelasius, and others, six hundred years after Christ and more, both the parts of the sacrament were ministered to the people.

Given the importance of receiving bread and wine when administering the sacrament as instituted by Christ it is unsurprising that many have, since March, raised concerns about the Church of England continuing to deny wine to communicants when church services resumed.  The rationale offered for this was that the only way wine could be legitimately received is from a common cup which is clearly not wise during a pandemic.  There is, however, an alternative which is widely used in many other churches: individual cups.  Those asking about this were, however, informed that such a practice was illegal in the Church of England.

Individual Cups? Synod Question and Answer

Given this context, it was encouraging to see a lay person from Chelmsford diocese – Mrs Mary Durlacher – asking for this situation to be reviewed by the bishops in a question to Saturday’s informal virtual meeting of Synod members:

Q68 Will the House of Bishops reconsider the prohibition of use of small individual cups as a valid ‘common sense’ pro tem way of sharing the Communion wine while current constraints remain?

The answer, however, was far from encouraging:

The Bishop of London to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:

The Legal Advisory Commission has stated “it is contrary to law for individual cups to be used for each communicant” and that “the doctrine of necessity cannot be appealed to in order to justify the use of individual cups even in circumstances where there is a fear of contagion from the use of a common cup. …the Sacrament Act 1547 makes provision for cases where a necessity not to deliver a common cup arises: in such a case the normal requirement that the sacrament be delivered in both kinds is disapplied by statute. Even if a shared cup cannot be used for medical reasons, the use of individual cups remains contrary to law….In such cases reception should be in one kind only.” The House cannot authorise or encourage a practice which would be contrary to law.

Sadly, on Saturday, the two attempts to ask supplementary questions were dismissed and so this answer was not able to be scrutinised further or critiqued.

On a plain reading the House of Bishops in this answer not only refuses to consider reception of wine from individual cups during the pandemic but claims it can do nothing because statute law (The Sacrament Act 1547) prohibits them from doing so.  

One question here is whether the bishops should not – given the doctrine of the Church of England – ignore any statute that had the effect of preventing the church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper as instituted by Christ.  There is, however, no need to open up the can of worms that is the peculiar established status of the Church of England or to urge the bishops to advocate law-breaking.

The Sacrament Act of 1547

As soon as one looks at the legislation cited in the answer it is clear something strange is happening.  The Sacrament Act of 1547, the very first piece of legislation under Edward VI, was enacted as “An Acte against suche as shall unreverentlie speake against the Sacrament of the bodie and bloude of Christe commonlie called the Sacrament of the Altar, and for the receiving therof in bothe Kyndes”. 

In other words, the whole purpose of the Act was to enable what the questioner was seeking – reception in both kinds.  Yet somehow this Act is now being cited in the answer to prevent any consideration of how to provide what it required.  

All sections of the original Act have subsequently been repealed except for the crucial Section VIII which legislates for reception in both kinds under the heading “Primitive Mode of receiving the Sacrament; The Sacrament shall be administered in both Kinds, Bread and Wine, to the People: After Exhortations of the Priest, the Sacrament shall not be denied. Not condemning the Usage of other Churches”.  

Translated into contemporary English (the original is here) the key part (there follow requirements for the priest to exhort preparation at least a day before Communion, a practice the bishops have not obviously been so keen to enforce) reads, with bold added for key wording:

And for as much as it is more agreeable both to the first Institution of the said Sacrament of the most precious body and blood of Saviour Jesus Christ, and also more conformable to the common use and practice both of the apostles and of the primitive church by the space of 500 years and more after Christ’s ascension that the said blessed Sacrament should be ministered to all Christian people under both the kinds of Bread and Wine [than] under the form of bread only; And also it is more agreeable to the first Institution of Christ and to the usage of the apostles and the primitive church that the people being present should receive the same with the priest [than] that the Priest should receive it alone; Therefore be it enacted by our said Sovereign Lord the King with the consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, that the said most blessed sacrament be hereafter commonly delivered and ministered unto the people, within this Church of England and Ireland and other the King’s Dominions, under both the Kinds, that is to say of bread and wine, except necessity otherwise require….

In the light of the wording of the 1547 Act (and the 39 Articles where the doctrine of the Church of England is to be found according to canon A5) the best answer to the Synod question would appear to be that the House, if it is not to “authorise or encourage a practice which would be contrary to law” (i.e. refusing to offer wine to congregations) does indeed need to “reconsider the prohibition of use of small individual cups as a valid ‘common sense’ pro tem way of sharing the Communion wine while current constraints remain”.

Instead the bishops are refusing to do so claiming the use of individual cups is “a practice which would be contrary to law”. This is despite there being no legal proscription of it in either statute law (despite the answer’s suggestion, the 1547 Act says nothing about the number of cups or how many people drink from them) or canon law.

Why are individual cups being declared “contrary to law”? The Legal Advisory Commission’s Arguments

The basis for this paradoxical reversal of the plain reading of the Articles and the 1547 Act is an opinion from the Legal Advisory Commission (LAC) issued back in September 2011.  The background to this was the decision by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in July 2009 to write to the bishops recommending the suspension of the common cup.  More detailed advice and commentary was also issued which made clear that “while communion in both kinds is the norm in the Church of England, in faithfulness to Christ’s institution, when it is received only in one kind the fullness of the Sacrament is received none the less”. This was in the context of “swine flu” (H1N1) and advice from the Department of Health not to share “common vessels” for food or drink.  An update was issued in September 2009 (after reports that most bishops had shared a common cup at the meeting of the College) and the advice was initially reaffirmed in November after a review (despite some diocesan bishops having restored the chalice) and then withdrawn and the chalice restored at the end of November 2009 (see here).  This official “swine flu” withdrawal of communion in both kinds therefore lasted just over 4 months, the same length of time (in July 2020) since the Covid-19 restrictions but with the prospect of many more months ahead.

The argument prohibiting individual cups has not gone unchallenged.  In May 2010, in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 withdrawal of the cup, Bishop Colin Buchanan wrote a robust critique entitled “Individual Cups? Law, Ecclesiology and Eucharist” in The Ecclesiastical Law Journal (Vol 12 No 2, pp. 219-23, here but subscription required to access).  This examined earlier similar advice in relation to individual cups and intinction.

He concluded:

As a communicant who has been considerably deprived by the expedients used, I urge that, when necessity moves us from established custom, then here [i.e. his argument for individual cups] is a better place to inhabit. If Jesus instituted a sacrament of bread and wine, with the two elements received separately from each other, how is it that the Church of England can so readily declare a second-best way of so receiving the elements out of court, and go instead for much further departures from Jesus’ institution?

But then, straining out gnats and swallowing camels is a persistent foundation principle of our corporate life.

Then, in April 2012, Philip Jones’ “Swine Flu and the Sacrament Act 1547” went even further, examining the language of “necessity” in the 1547 Act and concluding:

Refusal to administer the wine at holy communion, and any direction by bishops to their clergy not to administer the wine, therefore amounts to misconduct under s.8 of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.  Refusal is both a failure to do an act required by ecclesiastical law and neglect of the performance of the duties of office, since administration of the communion cup is a duty of office.  Any purported direction by the bishops to withhold the communion cup is also misconduct, being an act in contravention of ecclesiastical law.

The concern for public health may be understandable.  However, it cannot override the clergy’s duty to administer, and the communicant’s right to receive, communion under both the kinds.  Nor should the 1547 Act be used as a ‘figleaf’ to cover an arbitrary, illegal suspension of this fundamental duty and right.  If the communion cup is really a threat to public health, the proper course is to amend the law.

What then were the LAC’s arguments that “it is contrary to law for individual cups to be used for each communicant” and how strong are they?  How do they relate to the wording of the 1547 Act and Article 30?

Critique of LAC’s arguments

The claim in paragraph 3(i) of the LAC’s advice is that “the norm for the giving of the ‘cup’ should mean the use of a single chalice”.  This need not be denied.  However, as the advice notes, “it has long been accepted that where there are large numbers of people present an additional minister or ministers may ‘deliver the cup’ by way of consecrated additional chalices”.  Indeed, “the rubric during the Prayer of Consecration in the Book of Common Prayer 1662 seems specifically to recognise the possible use of more than one cup or chalice”.  The use of multiple cups is therefore not the problem with individual cups.  Furthermore, as Buchanan notes, this means that “any reference in rubrics or cross-headings to ‘the cup’ has no implications about the actual number of cups employed at any celebration”.

Their argument is, rather, that any cups used must be shared ie used by more than one person.  This is based, in 3(ii), on the definite article in the BCP rubric (“the Minister that delivereth the Cup to any one shall say….) which, it is claimed, “suggests that individual cups are not envisaged”.  But the fact that they are not envisaged does not mean they are prohibited.  The impermissibility of individual cups is then said to be supported by the rubric concerning further consecration (“If the consecrated … Wine be all spent before all have communicated, the Priest is to consecrate more ….”) although this need not follow eg if wine was consecrated in a flagon and then poured into individual empty cups held by each communicant then the situation envisaged in the rubric could still arise.  An even weaker argument from silence is then offered on the basis of canon F3 (on communion plate) which refers to “a chalice for the wine”.  Here it is admitted that this “merely states the bare minimum of that which is to be supplied and therefore is not entirely definitive” but the claim is made that “it is most likely that, if individual cups had been envisaged, it would have specifically referred to them”.  But again “not envisaged” is not “contrary to law” and surely this omission is more likely because of “the norm” of a single chalice.  The silence here no more forbids individual cups than it forbids multiple chalices.

In the light of the weakness of these arguments the claim that follows in 3(iii), the opening of which begins the answer given at Synod, is without foundation:

It follows that it is contrary to law for individual cups to be used for each communicant, or for an individual communicant, even if such cups were to be individually consecrated by the president and delivered individually by the minister (including a lay person duly authorised by the bishop under Canon B 12, para. 3) to the communicant.  

Do the bishops really believe this is contrary to law given the poor reasoning offered?  Does not the LAC argument instead do what Colin Buchanan described the earlier legal advice as doing – “convey the strong impression that the Commission knew the answer it wanted – the negativing of individual cups – from the beginning, and pursued it as a matter of policy, rather than law or doctrine”.

Three further arguments against the LAC’s position

Three further arguments can be advanced against the view that individual cups are illegal.  Firstly, as we have seen the LAC’s own argument is based not on only one cup being permitted but on the principle stated in 3(ii) that “the same cup/chalice is to be shared by a number of communicants”.  If that is the case then clearly wine cannot wisely be shared during the pandemic.  But it is not just that their legal arguments for this position are so weak.  Is there anything in Scripture or tradition to suggest that this principle is essential for the proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper?  Is it really the case that the inability to use a shared cup represents a legitimate “necessity” over-riding the fundamental rationale of the 1547 Act (which makes no reference to “a common cup” despite the LAC claim quoted in the Synod answer that “the Sacrament Act 1547 makes provision for cases where a necessity not to deliver a common cup arises”)?  Does this principle of only using a shared cup trump the Articles that state “The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people”?

Secondly, dispensation was, controversially, given during the lockdown for clergy to celebrate the Lord’s Supper alone.  It is also now expected that, although the congregation will not be offered the chalice, the person presiding will drink wine from the chalice. According to the CofE guidance,

At  the  giving  of  Communion,  the  president  receives  Communion  in  both  kinds…The president alone should always take the wine, consuming all that has been consecrated; other communicants should receive the bread only.

In both of these cases it is no longer the case that “the same cup/chalice is to be shared by a number of communicants”.  Here the chalice is, in effect, an individual cup, reserved for the priest and denied to the people.  In other words, the only logical or principled argument that could legitimately be used to deny individual cups to communicants also prevents only one person from consuming wine during the Lord’s Supper but this is what is being required by the current guidance.

Thirdly, the same LAC opinion that so dogmatically rules individual cups to be illegal also manages to argue that “the use of wafers instead of loaves is lawful”.  It is hard to see, both logically and theologically, how the insistence on “one cup” even to the extent of denying communicants wine is compatible with such a disregard for “we all share in one bread”.  As Colin Buchanan writes:

St Paul says (and our words at the breaking of bread echo him) that we all share one bread – but I see little sign of repentance from the atomised individual wafers which our Victorian ancestors brought in. When a serious reversion from the atomised bread has been brought in, then we may worry about individual cups in terms of sharing with each other; but not until then…let us get properly shared bread in universal use, before we attempt to mount a generally applicable argument about the common cup.


Many other questions at the virtual meeting of Synod members focussed on other aspects of the various statements from Archbishops and bishops during lockdown.  As we come out of lockdown and are able to gather again to celebrate Holy Communion this question about individual cups becomes particularly pressing.  In answer to another question (Q126), the Bishop of Exeter as Chair of the Liturgical Commission said, “The impact of the pandemic and churches being closed for public worship have indicated the need for further theological work on Holy Communion”.  However, he then added that “It is not likely that such work would be concluded before the next round of elections” i.e. summer 2021.

The misleading answer to Mrs Durlacher’s question and its underlying flawed legal advice about individual cups needs to be addressed much more urgently.  At the very least the House of Bishops or, failing that, individual bishops, must now do what was asked in the question – “reconsider the prohibition of use of small individual cups as a valid ‘common sense’ pro tem way of sharing the Communion wine while current constraints remain”.   This is not to recommend individual cups as generally acceptable once we are beyond the pandemic (interestingly, they appear to have been first introduced in the late 19th century due to health concerns).  The issue is simply whether the current official absolutist prohibition of the Church of England as reaffirmed in the answer on Saturday is legally and theologically defensible. Even if it is concluded that it is not, whether and how we might use individual cups safely and with minimal loss of the symbolism of a shared cup will need further consideration before their introduction.  We need to recognise, however, that Methodists and Baptists are already addressing health and safety matters in their guidance (and government advice simply states, “Where food or drink (‘consumables’) are essential to the act of worship, they can be used, however the sharing of food should be avoided, as should the use of communal vessels”) and Anglicans elsewhere in the world appear happy to use individual cups in their Communion services.  

We face many months, perhaps more than a year, before we can again share wine from a common cup.  The bishops therefore need urgently to review this situation given Anglican doctrine about communion in both kinds. The answer given to Synod members that communion in one kind is preferable and indeed required because the alternative – using individual cups – is “contrary to law” is not only legally dubious at best but, much more importantly, it is biblically baseless, theologically erroneous, and likely to prove pastorally damaging.

Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anglican Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

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78 thoughts on “Can we receive both bread and wine during the pandemic?”

  1. What risks of the transmission of a virus are present in allowing congregants to drink one after another from a common cup, each using his own personal drinking straw?

    • The problem lies in the way drinking straws are used everywhere. People suck, and then let the pressure go. Some liquid always returns to the vessel. The effect is actually worse than people sipping from a metal cup, which is the immediately wiped.

      • @ Peter Llewellyn

        When using a straw, neither the inside of the straw nor the lower end of the outside of the straw come into contact with the user’s mouth or his or her saliva. I am therefore sceptical of your assertion.

        When a straw is used, some liquid returns to the vessel, but that is a volume of the liquid that came out of the vessel in the first place and has not left the straw, equal to the straw’s bore times its length time pi/4 (its “area”) which has had only fleeting contact with the user’s breath, over a surface area equal to the said area. For about half the time the returned volume has an upward flow that would require very rapid downward diffusion to swim against it.

        If instruction is given to suck hard and to remove the straw from the vessel whilst continuing the sucking until the straw is empty rather than to stop sucking whilst the straw is still in the vessel, I don’t see how there can be any contamination at all.

    • Dear Sir,
      As a member of the C of E for decades, and trained in Philosophy, this present controversy is beyond belief.
      Of course there should be individual glasses to distribute the Communion Wine.
      It is not against govt guidelines- no secular law is broken.
      This should be sorted out by Christmas at the latest.
      One can even purchase trays with wine already in the glasses- covered.
      It beggars belief.
      The laity have an absolute right to receive Communion in both kinds- at least by Christmas.
      Please feel free to share this text with others .
      The credibility of the Anglican Church is most certainly at stake.
      And I type from Oxford- where the stake was literal.
      Yours sincerely,
      Helena Fyfe Thonemann (Miss)

  2. Whoever it was that fielded Mrs Durlacher’s heartfelt and eminently reasonable supplementary displayed a woeful lack of emotional intelligence and simple graciousness in the manner of his response. This Q&A was made available for the world to see on YouTube. I doubt the world will have been on the edge of its seat to find out what happened. Nevertheless, and despite it presumably being a legal process, is it necessary for the Church of England to conduct itself in such a crass manner? The word ‘muppet’ is increasingly coming to mind in association with some of the church’s more public figures: we can and should be better than that.

    • The Church of England doesn’t use “one bread” in communion, it uses several rolls or wafers, and it usually uses two or more chalices. Small cups are just an extension of the same idea, as the Free churches have long known. This is just footling sophistry.
      Zoom communions have shown the way ahead.

  3. Thank you for this analysis of the bizarre situation we are in over Communion. There was already a theological disconnect with a number of churches of my acquaintance. Before the pandemic arrived the increasing use of single cups as a “buffet choice” alongside the common cup was obvious (I’m not arguing for it just noting it)

    It’s also clear that a number of clergy are “doing” Communion in various ways (over Zoom or YouTube) in order to help their congregations…. one of them by not calling it “Communion”. But if it quacks like a duck etc. We seem to have tied ourselves up in secondary clerical details rather than addressing the fundamental issues. I doubt that many *laity* see it as anything other than actual Communion. Have we turned back the clock to a medieval view of the priesthood of essence rather than church order?

    It’s a pandemic. Whilst I really look forward to being together for Communion (and much of me us happy to wait for that lovely moment) the church wrapping is being considered more important than the fundamental content.

    “(If the consecrated … Wine be all spent before all have communicated, the Priest is to consecrate more ….”) although this need not follow eg if wine was consecrated in a flagon”.

    I recall from the work on Series 3 HC that further consecration was not necessary if the wine ran out. It was Colin Buchanan again in News of Liturgy …. It was actually about the optics (no pun intended) not the “validity”

  4. I suggested using individual cups as a temporary emergency measure but was roundly slapped down by my Archdeacon. (To be honest I didn’t even know it was illegal — and nor did many of my fellow clergy.)

    So much of our canon law and normal practises have been suspended or ignored (often by ultra vires fiat from the Bishops) during the the crisis yet we we are holding on to this one? Really? It seems Pharisaical and legalistic. Even if one accepts that individual cups are not “Anglican” or ideal, surely it is better to bend or even break the rules during a state of emergency? (It is lawful to rescue you donkey who had fallen down a well on the Sabbath.)

    Well, someone I know offered this workaround solution to the congregation yesterday:

    “In accordance with the rules, Communion will be in one kind only (bread but no wine) and carried out with maximum regard for your health and safety. This is not ideal but is a temporary measure.

    However, there are small individual cups of wine at widely spaced intervals on the ledge around the walls. Some are clearly labelled “alcohol-free”. Some also have a wafer on them.

    I need to say that legally these are NOT consecrated sacraments. They are there for you to take and consume if you want to have some wine or do not feel comfortable coming up for communion.

    If you do wish to participate in this way instead of sharing communion then please drop the used cups in the bowl at the front. (It contains a sterilizing solution.)

    I am bound by the rules of the Church of England. However, I wanted to offer as much as I could to you, including sharing in both bread AND wine.

    Whatever you do with prayer and a clear conscience is acceptable to God

    May he bless you and keep you”

  5. One aspect of using little cups which I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that fact that there’s always a bit left in the bottom once someone has drunk from them. I know that for many people this would be a problem, particularly those whose theology of communion means the consecrated wine has to be entirely consumed. It’s really hard to do that with little cups, and to clean them you would end up with consecrated wine going down the drain.

    Although I personally don’t have a problem with that, I know many people who would, and in discussions I’ve had about little cups in the past, this has been one of the main objections.

  6. There desperately needs to be some wider and bolder theological discussion about what we are doing, and what we think we are doing when “celebrate the Lord’s supper” (by whatever name we call it). I suspect the can of worms that Anglicans don’t want to discover is how paper-thin their consensus is. I further suspect that there are many superstitious Anglicans – not only among Anglo-Catholics who are used to bearing that accusation. Evangelicals, liberals and those who don’t accept any labels are all likely to harbour, if not a medieval fiction or two, some equally baseless modern equivalents.

  7. The whole logic of this article revolves around misconstruction both of the answer given at Synod, and of the Sacrament Act 1547. The answer could have been a little better phrased. Individual cups are not forbidden by the Act. What the Act does provide is a temporary suspension of a shared communion cup where necessary. Plague was not uncommon in the C16th and although it may be unfamiliar to us hitherto, now we know what it was like then because of the pandemic.

    The Act is a statute which overrides canon law and indeed the Articles when there is grave necessity. It is safer to avoid administration in both kinds during a pandemic or plague. The Sacrament is meant to be life-giving, not life-taking.

    There are good reasons for avoiding individual cups, and even worse, consecration by Zoom, reasons which all revolve around the biblical imagery and symbolism of the last supper – a single cup shared by those present, signifying their unity in Christ. Even if more than one chalice is required for a large congregation, it is taken from the Table to the communicants, retaining something of the symbolism in being shared by many, and being returned to the celebrant for reverent final consumption and cleansing.

    In pandemic terms, how are dozens, potentially hundreds of little cups to be cleansed safely? We are not permitted to offer refreshments after the service, but someone will have to clean multiple vessels used by many different people, any of whom may be asymptomatic carriers of CV19.

    There is a very good reason why this section of the 1547 Act is still on the statute book. The time of plagues is not yet over.

    • “Individual cups are not forbidden by the [Sacrament Act 1547]. What the Act does provide is a temporary suspension of a shared communion cup where necessary.”

      So are individual cups allowed? Or at least “not forbidden” by law (statute or canon)?

      “Even if more than one chalice is required for a large congregation, it is taken from the Table to the communicants, retaining something of the symbolism in being shared by many, and being returned to the celebrant for reverent final consumption and cleansing.”

      The same can be done with hundreds of individual cups (you can get a tray with holes in that carries dozens at a time). How are 50 small glasses different from 5 large chalices in that case?

      “In pandemic terms, how are dozens, potentially hundreds of little cups to be cleansed safely? We are not permitted to offer refreshments after the service, but someone will have to clean multiple vessels used by many different people, any of whom may be asymptomatic carriers of CV19.”

      Easy: drop the used cups in a bowl of sterilising solution. You can then empty the whole thing into the dishwasher or sink and clean them as normal.

    • Thanks Stephen and concerned you think I have misconstrued both the answer and the Act. You do grant the answer “could have been a little better phrased” which is encouraging as I think on a simple reading with no knowledge of the law it is very misleading in implying the bishops are faced with a statute banning individual cups and so requiring communion in one kind.

      I’m also not clear how your comments here relates to my argument. I get that the Act allows “necessity” as a grounds for not doing what the Act sought to reintroduce as the norm ie communion in both kinds. The question is whether a pandemic is such a necessity or whether there are ways in which the Act’s primary goal of providing communion in both kinds can be still achieved even during a pandemic. The Act itself does not answer that and does not rule out individual cups as a means of ensuring its primary goal is achieved even in the face of a pandemic despite the answer (and to a lesser extent the legal opinion) implying it does. You grant that key point in your comment that “Individual cups are not forbidden by the Act”.

      The question is what we can legally do currently given the necessity, for health reasons, of not having a shared cup. There is no dispute that the Act allows communion in one kind in certain circumstances (better that than no communion at all) and so the current practice could be lawful but whether and when we are in such circumstances is not determined in itself by the Act as you acknowledge, hence all the rather weak appeals in the opinion to rubrics and canons which I explore.

      In other words, I accept there could be an argument defending the legality of withdrawal of the cup on the basis of the Act and an appeal to necessity (though it should be noted that Jones’ article rejects this) but I cannot see an argument legally requiring ministers only to offer communion in one kind and forbidding them, as contrary to law, the use of individual cups to enable communion in both kinds. I certainly see no legal or theological basis on which the bishops must refuse to facilitate a reconsideration of this matter in the light of our current situation which is what was sought.

      As I note at the end, it may still be decided prudent not to use individual cups (though there are I think potential ways around your important practical and symbolic concerns – the former seem no more complex than those faced by pubs and restaurants and the government advice accepts drinking together in religious services is now able to be done) and I am not arguing people should be required to use them, just questioning the legal and theological basis for the dogmatic claim the bishops simply cannot reconsider the current ruling and clergy are breaking the law if they use individual cups.

      I’m very conscious this piece was rather hurriedly researched and written and I am an ethicist rather than a liturgist and have no formal legal training (though encouraged to find Colin Buchanan and Philip Jones with such expertise had raised similar concerns) so I’m interested to know what I’ve misunderstood from your perspective given your expertise in legal matters.

      • Andrew, thank you. The Act as we now have it does not concern itself with the mode of communicating people, and the surviving clause seems to me to remain on the statute book for the very good reason that plagues were happening then, as they are now. It was the basis for the advice in 2009 to communicate in one kind during the “plague” of that year, and it is both appropriate, and the law, in the current crisis. The statute does not ban individual cups: rather, it allows for communion in one kind while there is a crisis. As an Act of Parliament it overrides any form of ecclesiastical legislation, canons, rubrics, rules or Articles.

        Individual cups for every communicant seem to me to be an obvious health hazard in such a situation. If we can not safely share coffee after the service, we can hardly have multiple vessels from which people have drunk being handled safely.

        There is also a very serious issue about the reverence which is accorded in the Church of England to the consecrated elements. I am of course aware that there is a variety of practice, but the canons and rubrics and practice of most of the Church is for precious metal to be used for the common cup; for it to be administered by clergy or licensed lay assistants to communicants; for the remaining wine (which is also a requirement rather than grape juice) to be consumed by the celebrant or those assisting; and for the vessel to be cleansed within the liturgy by the celebrant or those deputed to assist.

        Whatever one takes of the nature and effect of consecration of the elements, these are steps which point to their holiness and significance as elements which have been used according to the Lord’s direct command to the apostles and to the Church following the pattern set at the last supper. It is hard to see how reverent it can be to collect together a large number of small, individual cups and put them in a dish washer or a sink.

        It seems to me that we are bound as biblical Christians to ensure that our celebration of the Sacrament contains as far as humanly possible the imagery and symbolism of the last supper, including the sharing of a common cup. It is an extension of this to provide for a large congregation with two or more chalices, which are handled by and returned to the celebrant for cleansing. But it atomises the symbolism when it involves filling many smaller vessels for indivdual use.

        • Stephen, do we know of any instance between 1547 and 2009 when Bishops asked their clergy to offer communion in one kind only in response to a plague? As you say, they had experience of plagues then.

          As for the symbolism, surely consecrating a common cup (chalice, flagon) from which wine is poured into individual glasses is closer to the biblical depiction of the sacrament than withholding the cup from all but the one presiding.

          • The provision made by the Act can be invoked by any of the clergy. If you look up on Google when England was visited by Plagues from say 1500 onwards, it was a remarkably frequent occurrence. I doubt whether records of its use were kept.

        • Thanks Stephen for further thoughts. Have been trying to get my head round where and why we disagree and wanted to run this past you and anyone else here. Sorry for the length of it!

          It seems we are agreed that
          • the 1547 Act requires communion in both kinds but grants there may be circumstances when it can be in one kind (“except necessity otherwise require”)

          • the 1547 Act does not, however, define what such “necessity” might be or who determines whether the required circumstances have arisen

          • the 1547 Act also, in your words, “does not concern itself with the mode of communicating people” and so it cannot be said to prohibit individual cups. I think we also agree there is no other statute or canon which explicitly prohibits these on the face of the legislation.

          • the 2011 legal advice is correct that “the norm for the giving of the ‘cup’ should mean the use of a single chalice”

          • as the 2011 legal advice acknowledges this does not however rule out the use of more than one chalice
          I remain unclear as to what your basis therefore is for supporting the view that individual cups are “contrary to law” and so communion in one kind the only legal option at present. Is it the reasoning in the 2011 legal advice which I critiqued (in which case I’d be interested to know where my critique is wrong)? Or is it a belief that the “necessity” of the 1547 Act presumes times of plague are a necessity requiring communion in one kind (though here Thomas Renz’s question about historical precedent is surely pertinent)? Or is your argument not ultimately that individual cups are contrary to law but wrong on other grounds you cite (I may post further in response to those but that would be a very different, not legally proscriptive, rationale for one kind than the current official position).

          I think my own view is becoming clearer as result of writing and reflecting on your and other responses in the last 24 hours. It is that given the 5 points above and the weakness to my mind of the 2011 argument that individual cups are contrary to law the question becomes who has authority to determine the necessity exception of 1547 has arisen and so communion in one kind is now required.

          Is the way forward for this to be left to the discretion of the president in situations such as we are now in? Those such as you who believe individual cups are a more serious break with Christ’s institution and common practice than withdrawing the wine from the laity can do as we are currently all required to do, arguing this is out of necessity. Those of us who believe we can properly celebrate the Lord’s Supper with individual cups (ideally with advice on how best to do this to meet your concerns re health, symbolism, reverence etc) do not face such a necessity requiring communion in one kind and so we comply with the Act by offering both bread and wine (by a means other than the norm of a single chalice).

          The current situation is that statute law and government regulations do not prevent offering wine, the 1547 Act and the Articles emphasise the importance of communion in both kinds, but the bishops are letting the lawyers assert we cannot receive in both kinds because to do so requires individual cups which they have ruled contrary to law. If they are not “contrary to law” – and I’m not clear how they are on your understanding – then is this freedom of conscience faced with a less than ideal situation due to the constraint of plague – either no wine for the congregation and only the president receiving from the chalice or wine for all but in individual cups (at least for the laity, the president could use a chalice if thought symbolically important) – not the best solution?

          • Andrew, I queried the bishops’ ban on church funerals (they weren’t banned by the govt. and as an incumbent I own my church building). I was told that it had been brought in under the law of “canonical necessity”. I’d never heard of that before and given the time it took them to come up with it I suspect they had to dig very deep to find it (I’m assuming it actually exists, which is generous / naive / Christian of me). I wonder if they will play the same card here? If so, is it a kind of Anglican “martial law” or “state of emergency”? Incumbents have rights AND responsibilities; I was given them by the bishop at my induction and take both of them very seriously.

        • Can anyone point me to where it says in the Gospel’s description of the last supper that the cup was returned to Jesus who drank what was left and cleansed the cup? All I can see is that He solemnly said that He would “not drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when (he) drinks it new in the kingdom of God” – possibly implying that He didn’t finish anything that was left in the cup?

          Sharing bread and wine to remember the last supper and to re-enforce in our lives the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus and God’s love for us is hugely significant. The traditions that have been built up around it less so.

    • Stephen,

      Rubber gloves and proper washing in a sink or dishwasher or how about paper cups?

      Plagues may not be over but science and understanding of transmission and hygiene has changed.

      And as a former trained and practicing lawyer taught in the canons of construction of statutes, what was the “mischief” the statute was enacted to prevent? – the transmission of infection, rather than to remove an element of communion.

      What is the “spirit” of the statute to construe the letter of the statute?

      BTW my wife and I have just had a coffee/ tea in a cafe, in pottery.

      • You are not currently permitted to have coffee after your church service, because of safety risks. Surely the same applies to multiple communion cups?

        • Stephen,
          Who having a coffee in church after a church service? It seems that it is a false comparison that you seek to make.
          The point would be the collection and cleaning of the individual receptacles.
          I was merely drawing a comparison with being able to drink a coffee in a cafe today, all within safety and hygiene guidance and or rules.
          And what about hygienic disposal of individual paper receptacles?
          Is it to be taken that as you didn’t contradict or even address the points I made about statutory construction that they are conceded.

        • You are currently not permitted to have biscuits after church either, unless that is you have professional catering attached to your church in which case you can have both biscuits and coffee.

        • “You are not currently permitted to have coffee after your church service, because of safety risks. Surely the same applies to multiple communion cups?”

          Easy: drop the used cups in a bowl of sterilising solution. You can then empty the whole thing into the dishwasher or sink and clean them as normal.

      • As a law postgrad and a member of a legislature, it seems clear to me that the provision in the surviving section of the Act is there to cover any necessity which may arise to prevent communion in both kinds. At a time when Plagues were prevalent in England, the risk of passing on such a disease was very likely envisaged by those who drafted the Act, and in such circumstances they gave discretion to act accordingly.

        It is worth noting that the title of the Act indicates that its first purpose was to ensure reverence towards the Sacrament: “An Acte against suche as shall unreverentlie speake against the Sacrament of the bodie and bloude of Christe commonlie called the Sacrament of the Altar, and for the receiving therof in bothe Kyndes”.

        It is surely no less important today to ensure that “the Sacrament of the bodie and bloude of Christe commonlie called the Sacrament of the Altar” is treated reverently.

        • Yes Stephen,
          I was taught and trained to speak, advocate without fear or favour, as a practicing solicitor.
          You should be aware of the canons of construction of statutes.
          Reverence is not a point in question that in relation to the statute and it’s interpretation.
          Neither is it denied by having individual receptacles.

    • If communion is possible in individual cups, then the argument of necessity doesn’t apply, as they clearly negate the necessity to withdraw wine from communion. It’s no more or less safe than communion in one kind. I also don’t see any way in which communion in one kind is, in fact, communion. I don’t hold to concomitance, and neither did the reformers (see the prayer of humble access); the full act of remembrance and the reception of grace is through receiving both bread and wine – I find it very hard to preside at communion in one kind, it doesn’t feel to me as if I am offering what people think they are receiving. Likewise I feel very uneasy receiving in one kind.

      Your argument about unity in Christ is equally possible to make about bread and wafers; we are one bread, except when we’re not, because we’re all little bits of round wafer.

      The symbolism of the one to many in the cups can be easily retained by consecrating in a flagon (which is mentioned in the rubrics, so presumably they envisaged it being poured out into vessels post consecration anyway), then pouring into cups.

      It is perfectly possible to order small plastic or paper cups, which rather negates your point about hygiene, but also I’d suggest that hot water, soap, gloves and a mask would make any small risk negligible.

      There is no particular good reason why we should have anything controlling the freedom of the Church of England to order its worship in statute. But even statute doesn’t override the command of our Lord to meet, to eat and to drink.

  8. Thank you and a remarkably fast-researched and helpful post.

    What is consistent in Anglican practice is the centralised blessing of bread and wine, and then the distribution and also the recovery.

    I suspect that some of a more Catholic persuasion would be concerned with the left-over amounts in each small cup, which would not then be reverently consumed. While wafers which are definitely units of sacrament are permitted, because they are wholly consumed, I suspect little cups, whether glass or paper or whatever, are resisted because of the residual amounts left. Quite a bit of Anglican practice around Communion is shaped by having to keep two theologies and practices on board, and there is a misty-eyed view of apparently historic Eucharistic practice from the Victorian era.

    But then this should be stated as the reason, not some attempt to railroad folk with a 1547 Statute.

    Gluten-free wafers which are definitely not of the “one bread” are kept separate on a separate plate and the communicant picks the wafer themselves – (tick); some churches have a non-alcoholic chalice for children and those who have alcohol addictions or who would prefer to have no alcohol – (dubious in some eyes – wonderful in other’s).

    Methodist or Baptist cups are blessed at the Table and then brought round in a tray, whether to a rail or to the pews (Not Anglican!).

    Zoom and home consecration (questions galore, but some aren’t asking them just doing because it feels right)

    What we do should be seen for what it is, but at heart the people of God come together to receive together and to remember together and exactly how that has to be done will vary but needs to allow for inclusion rather than model exclusion, so younger and older, able and less-abled, given the restrictions of a building and managing numbers, whether in pandemic or persecution, etc.

  9. Many thanks indeed, Andrew. I am going to do a thought on Article XXX at PCC tonight.

    We are going to have to decide what to do. I am not prepared to do communion in one kind given it is so flagrantly against our Articles. There are other options.

    Am I right in thinking that the Bishops cannot outlaw many cups filled from the one cup? Is their latest pronouncement therefore only ‘advice’ ?

  10. I have been instructed that I should celebrate Holy Communion from 1st September. I am personally grappling with Article 30, which seems to be a key part of Anglican identity. To me, if the common cup is suspended because of the pandemic, and we cannot use individual cups, then the celebrant should not alone partake of the wine. Scripturally, there is no precedent for one person partaking of the wine, while others watched on. Theologically, the celebrant is as much as part of the people of God as anyone else. Historically, I do not want to return to a medieval model where the priesthood is elevated above the laity. I note that the early church celebrated the “breaking of bread” and while it might be straining exegesis to suggest this gives the way ahead, I am very much minded to say that we all only celebrate in only one kind until the pandemic is over. Then the return to the common cup will be that much more powerful a symbol of the church gathering once again.

  11. Just suppose that a group of Hindus, or Muslims, or Buddhists, wanted to do something. Anything. And it was believed that what they wanted to do was in contravention of an act of 1547. There would be a universal outcry and a demand for that act to be repealed immediately.

    So why, when it’s a group of Christians who want to do something, do we roll over and meekly submit? We make our faith look ridiculous and unworthy of consideration by the agnostics, atheists and other faith people we long to reach out to.

    • The whole ridiculous churchy fuss is just another own goal in a depressingly long list. Can you imagine what Jesus or St Paul would say?

    • The 1547 Act does not instruct anyone to withhold the Chalice. It permits it in cases where there is grave necessity – such as a plague or a pandemic.

      • Exactly. The question at hand is whether alongside giving permission to clergy to withhold the Chalice with appeal to necessity, the law allows Bishops to instruct all clergy to withhold the Chalice.

  12. I would like to see, when I take communion, one loaf of bread broken before my eyes and placed next to one shallow bowl of wine of the earthen kind. I would then like to take a piece of bread and dip it in the bowl of wine, lift it up and look at the resemblance to flesh and blood before eating it. This would be both more satisfying in terms of symbolism and hygene and more authentic.

    • The kind of intinction you propose has actually received a lot of flak in recent years for being if anything less hygienic than drinking from a common cup on the grounds that more germs are usually found on the hands than the lips and the ease with which those germs could travel from your hand into the common cup.

  13. According to:

    “Hospitality spaces within a place of worship, such as cafes, are permitted to open but should be limited to table-service, social distancing should be observed, and with minimal staff and customer contact in line with the hospitality guidance.”

    So, you can serve coffee, as long as it is in a ‘space’ in the building for that purpose and people are sitting at tables which are a suitable distance apart.

  14. I’m a Canadian Anglican so the sacrament Act of 1547 doesn’t apply to me.

    I would, however, like to share my experience of receiving the Lord’s Supper in Mennonite churches, which I visit regularly. In every case, the individual communion glasses were brought around to the communicants, everyone helped themselves from the tray and then waited reverently until all had been served. Then, with appropriate words, everyone drank at the same time. It was a profound experience of unity, every bit as powerful as drinking from the common cup.

    Here in Canada health care is under provincial jurisdiction, so practice will vary across the country. In our diocese of Edmonton, Alberta we have been told not to use the common cup, and after the consecration of the wafers (a common loaf is not allowed), we (wearing gloves) are to place the wafers one by one in individual Dixie cups, and put them on a small table one by one for communicants to receive individually and then dispose of the Dixie cup in a garbage can beside the table. My response is, if we can get over “We all share in the one bread” to the extent of using this procedure, how would it be different to get over “the cup (sing.) of blessing which we bless” by pouring the consecrated wine into individual Dixie cups?

  15. I worship in an ecumenical partnership. When an Anglican priest celebrates communion we have a common cup, or rather two, one with grape juice (to accommodate the consciences of those from other denominations who prefer to avoid alcohol). Ministers of other denominations sometimes use common cups, sometimes individual glasses. What is invariant is our use of a common loaf rather than wafers.

    I’m happy to go along with the procedure chosen by the celebrating minister, and to remember the Last Supper and the death of Jesus.
    I find the arguments of the ecclesiastical lawyers quite unconvincing, in the light ot this article, which makes it quite clear that the 1547 statute does not say and has never meant what they say it does. Let us celebrate communion in whatever way is best suited to today’s circumstances. And that includes celebrations by a priest and partner at home, recorded on video and streamed, with encouragement to those watching to provide themselves with a little bread and wine.

    It’s not an exact repetition of the Last Supper – but then it never is. To start another hare, why is “You also should wash one another’s feet” less binding than “Do this in remembrance of me”?

  16. Perhaps it would be better to rather than waste time debating the archaic statutes to realize that for anyone outside clerical circles this debate is incomprehensible. Surely in a time of pandemic faith communities should look outward to ways of helping others rather than inwards trying to defend a Clericalist ownership of ways of worshipping. The Anglican Church becomes increasingly anachronistic when this kind of debate can be seen as important when the church should be helping others .

  17. Thank you for an excellent article. I am saddened that the (non-)leadership of our denomination has deprived hundreds of thousands of ordinary Christians from doing as Jesus instructed. I feel for those clergy who are between a rock and a hard place.

  18. An afterthought.
    The question of reverence has been raised in relation to receptacles if understand the point correctly.
    Is not the substance of reverence a one of heart and mind, of humble access, a one of meditation on the cross of God the Son and the new covenant, not a one of outward form and appearance, and as a part of an profound appreciation of the reality of the creeds.
    What is striking to me is the defence of the application of the 16 Century statute, perhaps in a literal way, while at the same time in large parts of the CoE the 39 Articles are denounced, disparaged, denigrated and denied.

    • “Denounced, disparaged, denigrated and denied.“
      Can’t you just hear that in the chorus for the next Stuart Townend song?

      • Andrew,
        He can have it, there is no copywrite, nor have I any intellectual property in it. Maybe as a new song for communion.
        (No, I can’t hear it, even in my imagination, as I can’t carry a tune very well.)
        In the meantime, I know you’ll appreciate hearing again, his , with the Gettys, ” Behold the Lamb who carries our sins away, (Communion Hymn)”
        Andrew, let us enjoy and reverently worship together with it, even while we are not sharing communion together as a taster for the feast.
        Mind you, he is not Anglican, is he? and his joint composition, “In Christ Alone” upset some, but it is apt for a Communion Service of reverent, but joyous, thankful awe (as a replacement word for those who are brought out in perspiration through fear of the word fear.)

        • Plainsong and silence are more my thing I’m afraid Geoff. If it’s going to be pop music, then give me Tears for Fears or Deacon Blue over any modern worship song you might mention. The sentiments of those two bands in particular are far superior to anything I have heard in a church.

          • Really Andrew?
            It reveals a lot, if you think the sentiments of TfF and Deacon Blue are superior to The Communion Song. The point is reverence, not sentiment. It is a far cry from pop music.
            Have you actually listened to it? If it is so painful for you to listen to, just read the words of reverence.
            If I remember correctly, Abba, was your earlier stated revered, preference.
            But enough.

          • Not a huge Abba fan Geoff. That was your misreading.
            Read the words to Sowing the Seeds of love. (tfF) and Dignity (Deacon Blue). Much much better theology than The Communion Song. Far more reverent for humanity.

          • Andrew Godsall,
            There is an unbridgeable? chasm if there is no agreed understanding of what communion is for, who is to be worshipped, revered, and it is not humanity: it is God made flesh, Jesus Christ.
            I certainly wouldn’t be joining you in a TfF or Deacon Blue, a Christless, communion service.
            There is a God of Glory, Jesus who left the throne of Glory, who died disgraced de-robed and undignified that he share his glory with us.

          • What was it Elizabeth I said Geoff?

            “Christ was the word that spake it, He took the bread and brake it, And what the word did make it, That I believe and take it.”

            And what do the bread and wine signify? The ordinary become extraordinary.

            But anyone who fully understands it surely has only just begun.

            I’m with Penny (below) about communion hymns, (maybe with the addition of Praise to the holiest set to music by Edward Elgar).

      • If it was Stuart Townend it would have to be “And on rather cross as Jesus died / he was Denounced, disparaged, denigrated and denied / by God.”

        • Jesus, became sin, died that we might have resurrection life, to bring many sons home, to glory: vicarious death and life; beloved of the Father.
          In Christ we have also died and been raised to life.
          May we be awed by John 17: 13-26.
          It was all part of our triune God’s plan of salvation before the foundation of the world. Otherwise known in some quarters as the “covenant of redemption.”
          All three persons of the trinity equally share the same nature and act inseparably according to their subsistence as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, none pitted against the other, to provide for our (new) covenantal Union with Christ, as mediator and substitute, to accomplish our eternal redemption.
          O happy day, that Jesus washed our sins away.
          And for Jesus, it was for the joy set before him.

          • “Jesus, became sin…”

            Massively complicated bit of 2 Cor. 5 Geoff – and involves knowing how the Hebraic world used the term sin. I *think* the problem that some of us have with Stuart Townend is that he is simplistic about things that are very complicated.

            There is a huge difference between simple and simplistic. Atonement theories are in no way simple and many (though of course not all) evangelical approaches to them are simplistic.

          • Andrew Godsall,
            What if find interesting is that in the me of complexity, you highlight only one point, while ignoring the other points contained in my comment such as,
            1 sin, what it is and it’s multidimensional and universal nature (set against the Holiness of God
            2 John 17
            3 the Holy Trinity
            4 Union with Christ
            5 covenants, old and new
            All aspects, the fullness, of atonement cohere and adhere in Jesus Christ.
            There are those who seek to obfuscate by sowing confusion and those who seek to clarify through simplicity while at the time having a grasp of interconnected biblical themes.
            From what I know of the body of work of Townend and the Getty’s I’d say their grasp of the Gospel is firm and clarion clear.
            Certainly, The Communion Song shows and understanding of the richness of the covenants moving from old through new.

          • “What if find interesting is that in the me of complexity, “

            I’m sorry Geoff I don’t have a clue what you are trying to say in this line. It doesn’t make sense, so I can’t really respond.

            As you say, I only respond to one point. The others all demand a long essay, exploring the may aspects of their interpretations. I was responding to the thread about songs/hymns and I’m afraid I prefer to stick with my first thought about songs by Townend and the Gettys, including the song you mention. I find it simplistic, formulaic, cliched, and well on the way to being a rant. For those reasons I find it at the very least theologically questionable.

            In terms of musical and poetic style – well, each to their own. In this respect, personally I find the style horrible and I’d gladly run a mile to not experience it. But you find the style helpful, and that’s well and good. We have choices about style, fortunately, and no one should impose those choices on another. BUT, I reckon we do have to remember the cautionary observation of how potent cheap music can be.

          • Andrew,
            It was meant to read, “In the name of complexity…” I’ll not blame my phone and its auto text, but my poor thumb waggling skills, and text checking.

  19. A number of comments have raised the question about due reverence and what would be done with individual cups after drinking the wine. Colin Buchanan’s article that I quote in the article responds to an earlier legal opinion which apparently raised the question of ‘a serious difficulty over the ablution of the vessels’. Interestingly this is not raised in the later 2011 opinion. I think his response is an adequate one to this objection:

    “But would there be? Methodist and United Reformed congregations do perfectly well at cleansing individual cups. The only difficulty might be where the present practice is the consumption of the last drop in each cup separately followed by adding first wine and then water and drinking up at each stage, and insisting that such ablutions are of the essence of the rite. But this is a self-imposed rigour, as the rites and their rubrics speak of consuming the elements that remain, but do not use terms of cleansing or ablutions done to vessels. In many churches ordinary consumption from a cup containing consecrated wine is simply followed by ordinary washing at a sink. Of course some drops of wine may then go down the drain, but this is hardly different from the loss of crumbs when leavened bread is used in accordance with the BCP rubrics. If fifty individual cups are drunk to the bottom (as they are in non-conformist churches), then washing these cups afterwards, whether in sinks or machines, is no different in principle from the washing done, and done perfectly canonically, in many of the existing vestries”.

  20. Andrew Goddard,
    This made me smile as I’ve been a member of the Methodist Church, with some preaching and the URC. They both had individual glass receptacles and were served and collected in specially made trays, then washed in the sink at the end of the service.
    There was no residue in each vessel. At times they were served to church members in their seats,( if I remember correctly that happens at the Keswick Convention, from trays) at others times members came forward as in an Anglican service.
    But I’ve taken part in a services where the small cups were paper.
    I recall one Church Council meeting where there was some heated discussion over whether there should be juice or wine and a longstanding church member of some influential heft, said that the reason there were so many alcoholic Ministers in the CoE was that they had to drink the residue of the wine in the chalice!

  21. Such a clear example of the rules of man being meaningless. Such nonsense. I doubt if Jesus was too concerned at His last supper if some of the wine He used to ‘symbolise’ His blood, ie death wasnt finished or some of it ended up down a drain. The whole point is remembering His death for us, NOT how we take wine or bread in different circumstances. Talk about not seeing the wood for the trees.

    The triviality of such discussions annoy me. I darent think what God thinks of it. If people are, rightly, concerned about catching this virus from sharing a single cup, use small individual ones. End of.

      • A nervous young Baptist minister, newly ordained, was taking his first baptism. He entered the baptismal tank and turning in his confusion to the wrong page of his service book, he solemnly pronounced: Then the Lord said , “Drink ye all of this.”
        It took them hours.

  22. I notice that individual cups were used at the consecration of the Bishop of Lewis in Lambeth Palace chapel on Wednesday (see the YouTube video). There were two chalices at the Communion. Although this is not entirely visible in the video, it seems that the presiding bishop alone received from one of them, the newly consecrated bishop alone from the other. What was the legal justification for this? If two cups were acceptable there, why not 3, 5, 10, or 20?

  23. It seems rather ironic that reformation legislation is being used to justify and even enforce that which it was designed to stop.

  24. Of course, you *could* say that you thought the stuff about “no individual cups” and “communion in one kind only” was just guidance and advice. (Remember the ad clerum of March 24th banning clergy from praying alone in their churches? The one that used the word “must” seven times? The one that the Bishops subsequently claimed was only “guidance and advice” — in an insult to our intelligence and their integrity. Well, like that. They’ve set the precedent.)

  25. Dear sirs,
    Please forgive one further comment from a member of the laity, and a woman.

    I know how concerned many of you are , as was I , until a day ago, when the truth dawned.

    There will be no return to the common cup in the Church of England.

    At most , parishes will have the choice between individual trays, and a communal cup.

    Too many of us are questioning the risk – long debated- and people are just too health conscious ( obsessed if you prefer) . The Bishops must take full responsibility for this. They could have challenged the government , but did not.

    They concur with the health risk advice.

    40 years experience of the Church prompts this reflection.

    The only question is how long it will take for General Synod to sort this out.

    I truly shared the pain. My profound respect for those priests who are offering individual glasses anyway, in some form.
    Regards, H.F.T.

    • Thanks for the comment. Certainly no need to apologise that is comes either from a member of the laity, or a woman. ‘For in Christ their is neither man nor woman, slave nor free, lay or ordained’


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