Holy Communion and Reserved Sacrament

29 November 2018

To all lay and ordained ministers holding the Bishop’s Licence or Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Lichfield

Holy Communion is at the heart of our worshipping life together. It is an indispensable part of our Anglican worship, identity, and community. At the Communion table we are united as members in the Body of Christ. We are fed at Christ’s own table and sent out to be his body in a needy world.

A regular pattern of receiving Holy Communion should, therefore, be part of the spiritual practice of all faithful Anglicans. However, we are aware that in some particular situations and churches a regular round of Holy Communion services is hard to maintain, usually due to a lack of availability of priests. The Church of England makes provision for this exceptional situation by providing a liturgy of Public Worship with Communion by Extension, which you can find online. This service assumes the existence of previously consecrated elements, which may then be distributed reverently and appropriately by authorised persons.

We are writing this letter, and have written the attached guidelines, to make clear the circumstances under which you may use this liturgy in our Diocese, recognising also that some will not want to avail themselves of this for theological reasons. We hope that these guidelines are self-explanatory and that they will assist you to use this service appropriately as and where necessary. We would wish to draw out and highlight the following points:

  • This service is intended as a means of facilitating regular reception of Holy Communion. It is a pastoral concession and should never become the sole or principal service in any church.
  • It is the duty of the incumbent or priest in charge to provide training to those who will lead such a service.
  • Plans for the regular use of this service must be approved by the Area Bishop, who must also be notified (by email if necessary) if it is used at short notice as an emergency provision.
  • Churches wishing to make use of this service must have access to a provision for the reverent and secure keeping of the consecrated elements, whether in their own building or in another nearby (for instance, within a church in the same Deanery). This provision would be an aumbry or tabernacle, however simple; an ordinary cupboard is not sufficient. If you wish to begin reserving the Sacrament in your church you must gain the permission of the Diocesan bishop, and separately a faculty may be necessary for the installation of an aumbry or tabernacle. Your Archdeacon will be able to advise further.

These guidelines concern only the service of Public Worship with Holy Communion by Extension and do not apply to the distribution of Holy Communion during a normal Service of the Eucharist, or to its distribution in homes, care homes and the like. For more on these matters please refer to our ad clerum of 24 January 2018.

We hope that these guidelines will prove clear and useful in helping you to ensure that those under your care are able to receive the benefits of the Sacrament of Holy Communion on a regular basis.

The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave
Bishop of Lichfield

The Rt Revd Geoff Annas
Bishop of Stafford

The Rt Revd Clive Gregory
Bishop of Wolverhampton


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