Lord's Supper During Pandemic -WCF

Status
Not open for further replies.

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
I attend a PCA church and I am an ordained deacon. WCF states that only "a minister of the Word lawfully ordained" may dispense sacraments. During this pandemic, our church hasn't assembled physically for about 5 months now and the monthly Lord's Supper observance has been completely ignored. I am not in favor of worshipping online, but I will accept my elders decision on this matter with understanding that we will address the Lord's Supper somehow. When I was a member of SBC, I was taught that a father of a believing household can dispense the Lord's Supper, but I know that PCA doesn't permit this.

I am a bit frustrated because my pastor and elders don't respond to my inquiries into some of these matters. All we ever hear is that "unfortunately the county has not given permission to meet in person yet" during the church announcement time of the worship. How are other churches handling the Lord's Supper during pandemic who may be in a similar position?

Chapter 27: of the Lord's Supper
4. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Hi there; I know you've been a member a while but take a moment to fix yourself a signature so folks know how to address you. See the link under useful links at the bottom of the page for how to do so.
I don't know what the current state of the county is as far as what they would like, but in Dallas we have been meeting regularly and with no restriction after 3 weeks setting it to 10. We have enough space to distance and folks are instructed to use masks when served the elements.
I attend a PCA church and I am an ordained deacon. WCF states that only "a minister of the Word lawfully ordained" may dispense sacraments. During this pandemic, our church haven't assembled physically for about 5 months now and the monthly Lord's Supper observance has been completely ignored. I am not favor of worshipping online, but I will accept my elders decision on this matter with understanding that we will address the Lord's Supper somehow. When I was a member of SBC, I was taught that a father of a believing household can dispense the Lord's Supper, but I know that PCA doesn't permit this.

I am a bit frustrated because my pastor and elders don't respond to my inquiries into some of these matters. All we ever hear is that "unfortunately the county has not given permission to meet in person yet" during the church announcement time of the worship. How are other churches handling the Lord's Supper during pandemic who may be in a similar position?


Chapter 27: of the Lord's Supper
4. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
We haven't celebrated the Sacrement since the initial shutdown - we started live services a week or two after Chris's church did. But one factor might be that most of the facility, including the kitchen, isn't accessible due to an ongoing construction project.

For that matter, we haven't had any infant baptisms, either, although that would be easier to pull off.
 

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
I suggested that the head of the family bring the wine and bread to be prayed and blessed by our pastor in person, then have it ready to partake together online. Would that be against WCF?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I suggested that the head of the family bring the wine and bread to be prayed and blessed by our pastor in person, then have it ready to partake together online. Would that be against WCF?

Yes, that is contrary to scripture.

WCF 29-3 -- " but to none who are not then present in the congregation"

WCF 29 - 4 -- "4. Private Masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone;g as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people,h worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ."
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Our church bought little premade cups with grape juice and a foil top that pulls off, and a small wafer on top sealed in plastic. Not sure where they got them. People out of work drove them to every house and put them in the mailbox...maybe some folks picked them up at the church. Then they did typical communion prayer and exhortation online and everybody was supposed to partake in front of the computer. It honestly felt weird but I tried hard to think about Jesus. Maybe it would feel more like the gathering if I wasn't in pajamas?

This looks similar to what we used. https://www.concordiasupply.com/Com...5giVte6jJlDAS8giMQo0jtVXpzxGpSXBoC0nEQAvD_BwE
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I am becoming increasingly hardline about the church going back to normal immediately - including celebrating the Lord's Supper (are we allowed to celebrate anything in this dystopian, joyless world?). Some compromise measures - including having more services with fewer people in attendance, not singing, abstaining from communion, and observing social distancing - would have been acceptable either as a reason for not stopping services at all or for a temporary period after the initial three-week lockdown was over but I see no valid excuse for them now. From what I can see, COVID-19 is here to stay and if you are waiting for cases to disappear completely you may be waiting for a very long time. Having gotten over the worst of it, we need to learn to live with it and get back to normal. Will there be some risk to going back to normal observances? Yes, but there always is a risk with anything in this life. The mere presence of risk should not be used as an excuse to abstain from our ordinary duties indefinitely.
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
I attend a PCA church and I am an ordained deacon. WCF states that only "a minister of the Word lawfully ordained" may dispense sacraments. During this pandemic, our church hasn't assembled physically for about 5 months now and the monthly Lord's Supper observance has been completely ignored. I am not in favor of worshipping online, but I will accept my elders decision on this matter with understanding that we will address the Lord's Supper somehow. When I was a member of SBC, I was taught that a father of a believing household can dispense the Lord's Supper, but I know that PCA doesn't permit this.

I am a bit frustrated because my pastor and elders don't respond to my inquiries into some of these matters. All we ever hear is that "unfortunately the county has not given permission to meet in person yet" during the church announcement time of the worship. How are other churches handling the Lord's Supper during pandemic who may be in a similar position?

Chapter 27: of the Lord's Supper
4. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained

This will sound harsh, but your church has ceased to be a church. It will become a church again once you assemble. Until then, talk about when you should administer the sacraments is a moot point. The church, the ekklesia, is by definition, a gathering. The first order of business is to do that.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Thomas, I think it's fair to say that in most PCA churches the elders will probably not give their okay to online communion. They have good reasons for this—reasons due not only to the minister's role but also to the communal nature of the sacrament. This means you will have to be patient and wait until your church is meeting in person. Such a season of waiting should make us long all the more for the day when we can resume meetings. It is also a reason why, where possible, churches should make an effort to find a way to safely, lovingly, and respectfully hold in-person worship services. It doesn't always show in a church's announcements, but I imagine your elders have wrestled greatly with this.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
We partake in the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day. What a blessing it is to have the Covenant meal each week to look forward to in such turmoil.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Can't access that thread. "You do not have permission to view this page or perform this action"

Since you can't access that thread, I will share some of the quotes and resources I posted.

Ursinus contra private communion:

That the Lord’s supper ought not to be celebrated privately, by one person alone may be proven; 1. Because it is a communion, and is the sign of our communion with Christ: but a private supper is no communion. 2. Because it is a solemn thanksgiving; and we ought all to render thanks unto God. Hence he who regards himself as unworthy to communicate with others, declares that he is not fit to give thanks unto God. 3. Because Christ, with all his benefits, is not the property of one, but belongs to all in common. A private communion would, however, make a private good out of that which is common. 4. Because Christ admitted all his disciples, yea even Judas, from which it is easy to see that a private communion is contrary to the appointment of Christ. 5. That some neglect the communion or defer it even until death, arises no doubt from some wrong notion, or influence, either because they will not commune with others, or because they think that they are not worthy. But all who believe that they are delivered from eternal condemnation by the death of Christ, and desire to advance in holiness, are worthy. Briefly, when the Lord’s supper is observed by one person alone it is done contrary to the design, name, institution, and nature of the sacrament.

Ursinus, Zacharias, and G. W. Williard. The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism. Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company, 1888. Print.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
I suggested that the head of the family bring the wine and bread to be prayed and blessed by our pastor in person, then have it ready to partake together online. Would that be against WCF?
Yes.

This quote is longer.

Bannerman contra private communion:

All the elements of worship to which we have referred are parts of a public ordinance, and not of a private one. They belong to the body of believers collectively, and not individually. They are to be enjoyed as means of grace, not by Christians separately, but by Christians in their Church state, and in communion with one another. No doubt, with respect to some of them, they may be used by individuals apart and alone, and without respect to their being participated in by others. There is private prayer as well as public prayer. There may be solitary praise addressed to God from the closet, as well as jointly from the great congregation in the sanctuary. There are such things as private Communion and private Baptism, distinct from the public celebration of those ordinances. But even in respect to those parts of public and social worship which may be used—or misused—in private, and by individuals apart from the society of believers, it is still true that they do not carry with them the same blessing in private as in their public use. They belong, in their character as parts of public worship, to the Church as a body, and not to the individual members of the Church as apart from the rest; and even where the individual use of these ordinances is not impossible or unlawful, but the reverse, they are not used to the same gracious effect, nor have they the same gracious influence, as in the case of the social and joint employment of them.

Prayer is an ordinance of a private kind, as well as of a public; but there is a promise of a more abundant answer and a more effectual blessing when “two or three shall agree together to ask anything of God,” than when they ask apart. The reading of the Word, too, is an ordinance meant for the closet as well as for the sanctuary; but in the former case there is no such special and effectual promise as that which declares in regard to the latter, that “where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ, there He will be in the midst of them.” The ordinance of Communion, as its very name imports, is a social and public ordinance, and not the reverse; and the disciple of Christ has a peculiar right to look for grace in company with the other disciples, when they meet together at their Master’s Table, which those have not who unlawfully and presumptuously change the public into a private ordinance, and partake of private Communions. In short, the blessing upon ordinances is but half a blessing when enjoyed alone, even in those cases when the ordinance may be used by the Christian apart from others; while there is no blessing at all promised to the unlawful use of public ordinances in a private manner, in the case where they admit of no such private appropriation. Either they cannot be enjoyed at all in their character of means of grace, except socially, or else they cannot be enjoyed to the same gracious effect. All the parts of Church worship belong in a peculiar and emphatic sense to the Church, and they are made effectual by the presence and Spirit of Christ, as His instruments for building up and strengthening the collective body of believers in a manner and to an extent unknown in the case of private and solitary worship. The outward provision which Christ has made for social Christianity, as embodied and realized in the communion of the Church, is richer in grace and more abundant in blessing by far than the provision made for individual Christianity, as embodied and realized in separate believers. The positive institutions of Church worship, designed for Christians associated in a Church state, carry with them a virtue unknown in the case of Christians individually.



Bannerman, James. The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868. Print
 

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
Thomas, I think it's fair to say that in most PCA churches the elders will probably not give their okay to online communion. They have good reasons for this—reasons due not only to the minister's role but also to the communal nature of the sacrament. This means you will have to be patient and wait until your church is meeting in person. Such a season of waiting should make us long all the more for the day when we can resume meetings. It is also a reason why, where possible, churches should make an effort to find a way to safely, lovingly, and respectfully hold in-person worship services. It doesn't always show in a church's announcements, but I imagine your elders have wrestled greatly with this.
To be frank, I was never for this online worship, but that's all we got in California. Unless, I pack up and move to Sun Valley, CA and leave PCA to attend Grace Community Church or join a local charismatic Calvary Church association. This Covid-19 has become a political tool for November election, so at least till then, it doesn't look like in-person worship is out.

Most churches seem to justify creative ways to worship God using Zoom, Youtube, and other online methods. As I said before, I am not condoning these alternative methods in anyway, but emphasizing the strictness of the Lord's Supper's dispensing method due to the "communal nature of the sacrament" seems theologically inconsistent while justifying that online worship is acceptable. At least, we need to be theologically consistent. Either both are acceptable or neither are acceptable.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
To be frank, I was never for this online worship, but that's all we got in California. Unless, I pack up and move to Sun Valley, CA and leave PCA to attend Grace Community Church or join a local charismatic Calvary Church association. This Covid-19 has become a political tool for November election, so at least till then, it doesn't look like in-person worship is out.

Most churches seem to justify creative ways to worship God using Zoom, Youtube, and other online methods. As I said before, I am not condoning these alternative methods in anyway, but emphasizing the strictness of the Lord's Supper's dispensing method due to the "communal nature of the sacrament" seems theologically inconsistent while justifying that online worship is acceptable. At least, we need to be theologically consistent. Either both are acceptable or neither are acceptable.
It would not surprise me if your elders were to say that online worship is not really a true corporate worship service either, but that it's better than offering nothing at all (since at least we get the benefit of preaching, some connection to the church, and an aid to worshipping in our homes). A lot of churches with Presbyterian sensibilities would say this, I think.

Are you really sure your pastor/elders are refusing to respond to your inquiries about all of this? That sounds odd. If you're starting to get bitter, I think you owe it to your pastor to pick up the phone, let him know this is seriously starting to wear on you, and ask him to help you understand the elders' reasoning. You surely will not be the first to have asked. It may be that you still won't agree with their choices, but having that conversation can help nevertheless.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
Aren't they saying now that you can't catch Covid from surfaces? I would think The Lord's Supper would be fine to do. I asked my pastor when he expects to do it again and he said, November...really sad. Which means, 9 months without. At least we get to meet for worship though, so we are still getting to do that. Sorry to hear everything has closed down for you.
 

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
It would not surprise me if your elders were to say that online worship is not really a true corporate worship service either, but that it's better than offering nothing at all (since at least we get the benefit of preaching, some connection to the church, and an aid to worshipping in our homes). A lot of churches with Presbyterian sensibilities would say this, I think.

Are you really sure your pastor/elders are refusing to respond to your inquiries about all of this? That sounds odd. If you're starting to get bitter, I think you owe it to your pastor to pick up the phone, let him know this is seriously starting to wear on you, and ask him to help you understand the elders' reasoning. You surely will not be the first to have asked. It may be that you still won't agree with their choices, but having that conversation can help nevertheless.
They aren't refusing to respond, but just won't reply back on my emails. It is considered a sign disrespect to ask for reply if they decided not to respond. These matters are high priorities in many churches.

Korean American churches are socially conservative, but theologically ambivalent to be honest. Let's just say confessions aren't exactly high priorities in most Korean American churches. Remember that unlike many of the Western civilization nations, majority of Asian/African/Latin American nations are passive recipients of the Reformation bloodshed and martyrdom. Confessions or denominational distinctions aren't priorities because they never went through the persecution like Covenanters, Puritans or Huguenots. Our/their ancestors did not experience religious wars like English Civil Wars, Eighty Years' War, or Thirty Years' War. The persecutions that we went through were from Paganism, Communism, Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, so priorities are quite different. The Protestantism is touches differently to people whose ancestors fought different spiritual battles.

I guarantee you that you will not be able to make distinctions from Methodists, Baptists, or Presbyterians unless you have been their more than a year. For example, one of my past pastors who was/is a member of with PCUSA, but had no compunction about performing full immersion baptism if requested by the non-denominational church and the rest of the congregation really didn't really care if it is by immersion or aspersion as long as baptism is done including elders.

But I digress from the original thread as my family including myself start to slip into a habitual living room worship environment that is physically comfortable, but a spiritually quicksand...
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I guarantee you that you will not be able to make distinctions from Methodists, Baptists, or Presbyterians unless you have been their more than a year. For example, one of my past pastors who was/is a member of with PCUSA, but had no compunction about performing full immersion baptism if requested by the non-denominational church and the rest of the congregation really didn't really care if it is by immersion or aspersion as long as baptism is done including elders.

Plenty of Reformed pastors would not make the mode of baptism a hill on which to die. The standard Reformed view is that the mode is accidental to the administration of the ordinance. In fact, many 16th and 17th century Reformed divines could be cited in favour of the view that most NT baptisms were carried out by immersion.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Ah, the Korean-American context helps me understand your situation in terms of not getting answers. Now I see that you may have to accept not having decisions explained to you.

Is there any provision for members who are feeling loneliness or anxiety or increasing anger, or who need extra spiritual encouragement for other reasons during this time? Is there a way to meet for coffee, or even for a chat on the phone? Anything like that? Most pastors and elders I know are acutely aware right now that many among their flock have such needs, and they trying to respond when they hear of those needs. I would think this is happening, in some form, in all cultural settings.

I hope you find a way to let your elders attend to you. Please don't begin by being angry that they won't support in-your-home communion. That is expected, and it fits a robust understanding of all that is happening in that sacrament. They are trying to protect you from observing it in a too-small way that's based on your own understanding of what feels good to do. Accept your time away from the Lord's Supper as you might accept a time of fasting, drawing near to God in your hunger instead of in your fullness. And find an appropriate way to reach out to your elders and let them minister to you.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
For example, one of my past pastors who was/is a member of with PCUSA, but had no compunction about performing full immersion baptism if requested by the non-denominational church and the rest of the congregation really didn't really care if it is by immersion or aspersion as long as baptism is done including elders.

Immersion is licit in the PCA. The problems are generally logistical. Most Presbyterian sanctuaries aren't equipped for immersion. That means finding a member with a swimming pool. Next issue is that baptism should only occur in public worship. That means that the session has to call a special worship service by the swimming pool, announce it in advance, and be able to accommodate all the members who wish to attend. So there needs to be a good sized yard around the pool.

Might be time to find a new church, one that meets together.

Remember, the guy is behind enemy lines in California where Christianity is persecuted by the authorities.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree with the comment that he is behind enemy lines and that stinks. However, there are churches still meeting, even beyond Johnny Mac. I saw some meeting in Walmart and others in casinos. There are a bunch of churches getting real creative.
 

Edm

Puritan Board Freshman
Our church bought little premade cups with grape juice and a foil top that pulls off, and a small wafer on top sealed in plastic. Not sure where they got them. People out of work drove them to every house and put them in the mailbox...maybe some folks picked them up at the church. Then they did typical communion prayer and exhortation online and everybody was supposed to partake in front of the computer. It honestly felt weird but I tried hard to think about Jesus. Maybe it would feel more like the gathering if I wasn't in pajamas?

This looks similar to what we used. https://www.concordiasupply.com/Com...5giVte6jJlDAS8giMQo0jtVXpzxGpSXBoC0nEQAvD_BwE


We use the same thing. We have been meeting in person since june. We were having 2 indoor services but have been going to outdoor services so more people are comfortable attending. My Dadss church is also having weekly Communion. There are lots of churches here who are still online only.
 

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
We use the same thing. We have been meeting in person since june. We were having 2 indoor services but have been going to outdoor services so more people are comfortable attending. My Dadss church is also having weekly Communion. There are lots of churches here who are still online only.
I agree with Lynnie and Edm on finding creative ways without violating truths.

I think too many people under the Westminster Standards have forgotten that it was formulated during the English Civil War and Puritans/Separatists actually held power in England. The original intent was for the England to have one standard system, but the underlying assumption was that it is still a "Christendom". It was about what is the most biblical means of glorifying God as a covenant NATION.. not whether we should worship or not. Let's face it, many reformed churches may claim they confess to the WCF, but in reality they are confirming 1788 or 1903 American revisions where the state or church relationship were rewritten. Applying blindly on adiaphora to the strictest letter of the Westminster Standard that YOU even revised without any considerations to non-Christendom environment is a bit too legalistic in my opinion.
 
Last edited:

chothomas

Puritan Board Freshman
No other discussions?

However much I love Westminster Standards, it is subordinate to the bible. It does not address every facet of Christianity to be on an equal standing with the scripture itself. The scripture tells us that early churches met mostly at houses with few families assembling to worship, learn, fellowship, and pray. Elders went from houses to houses to oversee these assemblies of believers. The times were different back then. They were in a hostile environment where the gathering is persecuted by both Jews and Romans. If current churches put themselves some strange self-inflicted persecutions (given that it started as voluntarily, but now forced), then churches should be following the biblical pattern, not try to apply Westminster Standards on matters that it does not specifically address.

I used to work on contingency plans for corporations. If there is an emergency that prevents employees from coming to work, detailed plans are prepared, so the business continuity is not jeopardized. Even corporations have plans because of the importance of continuity, but many churches did not. Let us the truth, many church leaderships failed to prepare for events like this even though there were signs of hostilities toward Christian worship rising in America for a long time.

I don't see how communion at home is so unbiblical when original churches partook with with meals at home with fellow believers (1 Cor. 11:23–32). At least discuss with me from the biblical perspective. I have seen comments like how my church stopped being a church, or that is not allowed by WCF, or go look at some thread that I don't even have access to. So far, I only saw two people who posted who still treasured the continuity of the Lord's Supper at a strange time like this (I am truly thankful for their posts). Before thumping Westminster Standards, perhaps we should assess the situation more deeply and remember that "real Puritans" took to the scripture for the authoritative understanding and not Westminster Standards
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I don't see how communion at home is so unbiblical when original churches partook with with meals at home with fellow believers (1 Cor. 11:23–32).


The 2nd commandment requires that we only worship the Lord as he has commanded. This is commonly referred to as the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). Since the Lord has not commanded communion to be dispensed and held by individual families (dispensed by the father I presume), it is forbidden. We have zero examples of this in scripture. Furthermore, the examples of communion we do have describe believers (representing a physically gathered group) coming together in person and the communion being given by someone commissioned with the authority to do so (ex. Jesus, Apostles, Elders). If a congregation meets physically in a home for Public Worship, then by all means the Minister SHOULD administer communion.

Outside of scripture, this is a Reformed & Confessional board, so you should not be surprised nor let down by the general consensus here, that this practice you are asking about is forbidden. My sense is, considering you are a Deacon and have taken vows (I was a former PCA Deacon as well), that you more than most are obligated to submit to the will of your Elders on this matter and the PCA Constitution. The bible, our confession, and the PCA BCO do not support communion being taken privately at home.

Lastly, I also feel your anguish, while our Morning Worship service is the only thing that has been resumed, we have yet to take communion. It is very disheartening for me that our session does not find it more vital. In other words dear brother...hold fast and trust in the Lord and where he has placed you. Your in a slightly different situation as a Deacon as compared to a layman. Continue to patiently and humbly encourage your session to meet again physically so that the saints in your flock may return to Public Worship. Keep crying out to our Father to restore it!:detective:
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top