PCC DIGEST, MARCH 2018
From time to time we discuss matters at the PCC which we want to then share with the wider church community straight away.
Our latest PCC meeting is a case in point, and so below you will find a few updates.
The reports are being collated in time for the Annual Meeting at the end of April. The accounts have been finalised and the content of the Annual report has been approved by the PCC.
BUILDINGS & REORDERING
We have a number of projects under way at the moment; in Tilshead, Orcheston and in Shrewton there are building works which were identified as part of the Quinquennial inspections in those places.
In addition, in Shrewton we are preparing to put in an application to ‘re-order’ the rear north aisle of the church. Some people think this is a lot of work ‘just to introduce a Book of Remembrance’, and if that were the case, I think we’d agree. However, the levelling of the floor and removal of the plinth around the font are also important projects to improve access for many who come into our church. We currently have very little space where people in wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or pushchairs can sit comfortably. All of these needs are especially noticeable when our church hosts a large service or event, and the flat floor will allow us to be more flexible with the type of seating arrangements we can offer in this part of the church. It will also mean that families coming for baptism will be able to gather more easily around the font.
In due course a display will be placed in Shrewton so that the congregation and church visitors can more easily visualise the proposed changes.
In 2005/6, the 4 PCCs of the group of parishes, Chitterne, Orcheston, Shrewton and Tilshead discussed proposals to allow children who had been baptised, and suitably prepared, to receive Holy Communion before Confirmation. The majority of the parishes had decided they would like to allow this to happen, but it was not pursued further at that time. Our current PCC, reflecting as it does our single parish, considered this idea again, and has decided to proceed with the process of seeking permission from the Bishop to allow admission to communion before confirmation. You can see the briefing paper which the PCC received below.
The Admission of Children to Holy Communion in Salisbury Plain Benefice
The Church of England allows for children who have been baptised to receive Holy Communion before they are confirmed, following a short period of preparation (children usually aged at least 7yrs). Each parish must explore this for themselves and decide whether they wish to allow for this in their community. All parishes are expected to offer ‘hospitality’ to children from other traditions or C of E parishes where they already admit children to Communion before Confirmation.
As a parish we have not considered the admission of children to Holy Communion before confirmation. It was discussed by at least 2 of the old parishes, but any resolutions made before 2014 when we became a single parish benefice no longer hold.
The PCC therefore needs to explore this idea and decide whether or not it wishes to pass a resolution to allow children, following appropriate preparation, to receive communion before they have been confirmed. Confirmation preparation would continue to be offered, but this would be available to older children.
THOUGHTS FROM THE MINISTRY TEAM
‘My own experience of admitting children to communion before they have been confirmed dates to my curacy in the late 1990s. In my diocese (Southwark) we were allowed to admit children in this way, following a resolution by the PCC. Preparation tends to be for children of around 7 or 8 years upwards. It focuses on what Baptism and Holy Communion each represent, about Jesus’ love for each of us, and about the significance of becoming part of the Body of Christ in this way. Children who were prepared for this genuinely wanted to be part of their church community. The age of preparation is significant; it is regarded as the point in a child’s life when they begin to know their own mind, and the choices they make are- by in large- for themselves.
What I saw in this process in my parishes was all positive. Children who had chosen this path, their parents, and other members of the church, all felt that this was a very natural part of worship together. I would commend it to any church community as a very logical part of our journey in faith together.’
‘It seems that in the early Church, Communion immediately followed Baptism. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have always confirmed children immediately after Baptism. The subsequent divorce of Communion from Baptism has been the combined result of medieval theological preoccupations.
Changing worship patterns with the development of family orientated communion services has meant that children find themselves regularly in church at a service in which they cannot fully participate. This is a development which I feel is very appropriate for our benefice to adopt.’
‘I think that the two Biblical sacraments of the New Testament, Baptism and Eucharist, are of God’s grace and not personal merit or will. « Sola gratia »
I think the primary meaning of the Eucharist is the share in the heavenly banquet where everybody is invited, especially the children.
I think that one cannot live without the breath of God, hence the baptism; or without the bread of God, hence the Eucharist.
I think the sacramental ritual that celebrates our faith and will is Confirmation with the Bishop, successor of the disciples.
I think the First Communion is a lovely rite of passage for the children that shows that they are starting to get an understanding of the grace given by God.
I think, from a strategic point of view for the Benefice, that it would be a way of gathering the families of the children in the church at the end of the primary school before they disappear into the secondary. Above all, I think that some of our children already have a clear desire of God that must be acknowledged by the grace of this sacrament.’
‘I believe that all should be welcome at the Communion table. Jesus would not exclude anyone on account of age or understanding or indeed for any other reason.
We say that we are all one body because we all share the one bread, but what do children think of this? They are excluded because they don’t know enough? They don’t understand the full meaning and significance of the bread and wine and they don’t share it so they are not part of the ‘one Body’?
If children had been at the last supper I believe that Jesus would have shared bread and wine with them, and made them feel full and valued members of his church, he would not have excluded them he would welcome them.’
- The ministry team create a suitable plan for preparation and first communion services (preparation schemes are available, from which we could choose)
- The Rector will seek permission from the Bishop to make this change in our parish, in accordance with Church of England guidelines
- The children/families within our community who might wish to be involved will be identified and contacted directly.
- Preparation course dates would be established and dates for 1st communions would be set.
The PCC voted and passed the following resolution unanimously:
‘We, the PCC of Salisbury Plain Benefice, in the Diocese of Salisbury resolve to welcome baptised children to receive Holy Communion in the churches of this parish following a suitable course of preparation lead by our ministry team; as well as continuing to offer hospitality to those visitors who have been appropriately prepared elsewhere.’