No Congregation

No Sunday congregations. We are living in strange times.

Yet, we have been here before, in Scotland at least. After the Jacobite risings in the 18th century, which many Episcopalians had supported, the Episcopal Church faced many restrictions. One was that it was illegal for more than five church members to be in the same room as their priest. So they had to find imaginative solutions. Sometimes the priest would stand in the hallway and say the liturgy while members of the congregation would be in separate rooms off the hallway but still in earshot. There were also instances when the congregation would stand outside and parents would pass their babies in through the window for the priest to baptise them. Incidentally my son in Canada told me he did something similar recently. A friend was getting married and the guests stayed in their cars in the car park and honked their horns when the couple emerged.

So, with today’s live-streamed services we are following the example of our forebears. And let’s remember that these difficult years in the 18th century were a period of spiritual growth in the Episcopal Church. They produced an order of service for Holy Communion that subsequently paved the way for liturgical across the Anglican Communion and in 1784 the Scottish bishops consecrated Samuel Seabury, the first bishop for the newly-independent United States (the English bishops wouldn’t do it because Seabury couldn’t swear allegiance to George III), a move that would eventually lead to the formation of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Where there’s a will there’s a way and who knows what the outcome could be.

Peter M. Potter