Members of the Church’s ruling General Synod are being asked to give final approval to a change in ecclesiastical rules to allow children and worshippers who have not been confirmed to administer Holy Communion
Children as young as nine are set to administer bread and wine to worshippers during services of Holy Communion in the Church of England, under a proposed overhaul of canon law.
Members of the Church’s ruling General Synod are being asked to give final approval to a change in ecclesiastical rules today (Sunday) which would allow children and worshippers who have not been confirmed to administer the sacrament at eucharist services.
It comes despite fears from the Church’s most senior liturgical body that children could spill communion wine, which represents the blood of Christ. It would also mean children being invited to distribute alcohol in churches – almost a decade before they could legally drink it in a pub.
The change would further widen the gap between Anglican churches and Roman Catholic tradition in which communion wine is held in special reverence, believed to be the actual blood of Christ.
But the plan has received overwhelming support within the Church of England amid arguments that it would send out a signal that children are “fully included within the body of Christ”.
During discussions at the Synod, which is meeting in York this weekend, members lined up to support the change insisting that opening up the administration of Communion to children was closer to its original form as a communal meal.
Elliot Swattridge, who represents the Church of England Youth Council on the Synod, said: “When Jesus instituted the first celebration of the eucharist during the last supper his words were simple: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’.
“In this characteristically simple statement he instructed the entire body of his disciples to participate in not only receipt but also the administration of communion.
“Note that Jesus did not state ‘do this but never administer it unless you have been ordained’. Neither did he state ‘do this but only of you are over 18 years of age’.”
He added: “It was Jesus who rebuked the disciples for turning children away, instead setting them especially highly saying ‘the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these’.
“If the Kingdom belongs especially to children surely they are the most qualified of anyone to administer it.”
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SOURCE: The Telegraph