Reconsideration of Advisory Opinion on Virtual Communion
To the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA):
The recent Advisory Opinion regarding Church in an Emergency/Pandemic states "If it is not reasonable to share communion in person as soon as possible after the service for reasons of public health order, the session should cease and postpone the Lord's Supper until such time as it is reasonably safe to resume the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper." We ask that this option be reconsidered.
On the basis of W-1.0106, Christ is truly present even if we are not - or not in the same location. W-3.0401 discusses the physical sign of the Sacraments but does not require the Body to be physically present. W.-3.0409 states the Sacrament is the sign and seal of our communion with Christ. While this section refers to the gathering of the people of God, it does not define what this means. W-3.0414 discusses taking the elements to those who are absent or homebound preferably the same day.
But what happens when we are all homebound?
Is Christ no longer present?
If the Spirit draws us into Christ's presence and unites with the Church in every time and place (W-3.0409), is the Spirit's power limited to the human constraints of time and place?
Do the bread and cup fail to be the sign and seal of holy communion with Christ if we are not all in the same room or in person within one to two days?
In virtual worship services we are gathered in Christ's name. When these services include confession and proclamation of the Word, the Lord's Supper is rightly administered.
In times such as these, we need to be connected to God's saving power and providential provision (W-3.0409). We need to know we are one Body even though we are many. We need to taste and see that the Lord is good.
While the Advisory Opinion in is just that, we believe it does not reflect the faith we profess and our understanding of the Sacrament.