The Bishop encourages the use of suitable lay people to assist in the administration of Holy Communion. There are three contexts for this:
- The administration of the consecrated bread and wine in the Holy Communion in church
- The taking of the consecrated elements to the sick and housebound
- The exceptional circumstances of the Bishop authorising Public Worship with Communion by Extension
People who engage in these ministries do so under the Bishop's authority. The Bishop, therefore, reserves the right to remove such authorisation at any time.
All those who assist must be given proper training and instruction in the meaning of the sacrament and in the ordering of its administration in the parish. Those authorised to assist in taking the reserved sacrament to the sick will need training in ministry to people who are ill or housebound.
The law provides (in regulations made under Canon B12, as appended to the published version of the Canons) that application must be made in writing to the Bishop by the Incumbent or priest in charge, with the support of the churchwardens. The policy of Guildford Diocese is to encourage that any such application should have the full support of the PCC. Applications should make clear whether authorisation is limited to distribution of the consecrated elements in church, or includes distribution of Holy Communion to the sick and housebound.
Those who have been nominated by this process will be authorised by the Bishop, after simple training provided in each Deanery by the Discipleship, Vocation and Ministry Team. They will receive a certificate of such authorisation in accordance with Canon B12.3. The Discipleship, Vocation and Ministry Team will inform the Bishop of those who are to be given permission. Such people shall have this ministry publicly acknowledged in the parish and their names made known to the church. They may be admitted at a public service in the parish, if desired. Local custom will vary as to the manner and style of the administration of communion.
Whatever the tradition of the parish, it should be borne in mind that individual customs about the reception of the sacrament varies and there must be sensitivity to the desires of those receiving the sacrament. For example, people may expect to take the chalice for themselves or to have it ministered to them. Some people now prefer to receive by 'intinction' (the consecrated bread being carefully dipped in the consecrated wine, with care taken that fingers do not contaminate the contents of the communion cup).
Public Worship with Communion by Extension must follow the order duly authorised by General Synod and the Guidelines issued by the House of Bishops. The law requires the Bishop to give explicit permission, either for a specific occasion or more generally. It is to be an exception rather than the normal practice.
Please see Public Worship with Communion by Extension - (Church House Publishing ISBN 0 7151 2053 0)