Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Some reflections on Anglicanism from the Seabury-Western Dean

Some helpful and interesting reflections on Anglicanism (in response to a letter in The Living Church) from the Very Rev. Gary Hall, the dean and president of Seabury-Western Seminary...

Welcome at the Table


In his Guest Column, “Careless Communion” [TLC, July 8], the Rev. Ian Montgomery described a commencement he attended at “one of our seminaries” where, from his point of view, everything seemed to go wrong. The eucharistic bread crumbled and fell to the floor, the presider made an open invitation to communion, and the preacher seemed to endorse what the article called the “new Episcopal religion.”

It didn’t take me long to realize that the event Fr. Montgomery described was, in fact, the commencement of the seminary of which I am the dean, Seabury-Western in Evanston, Ill. While Fr. Montgomery ably expresses his reaction to some elements of our liturgy that day, I would like to address a few of his concerns.

Fr. Montgomery writes that “the bread used crumbled badly and was dropping to the floor during the administration of the sacrament.” Nobody who knows Seabury and its liturgical traditions well could seriously think that we are intentionally lax in our treatment of the sacrament. What Fr. Montgomery experienced was the unfortunate consequence of our new policy of using gluten-free bread at all celebrations of the Eucharist. The Seabury community now has several members with Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), and so we have started using only gluten-free bread as an expression of our inclusive hospitality. If you have ever tried to bake gluten-free bread, you know how tricky it can be. I regret that the recipe used at commencement produced friable bread, and we will work to make sure that the experience is not repeated.

While crumbly bread might seem an apt metaphor for Anglicanism, in reality it’s an expression of a community trying to react pastorally to a new situation — which, in a sense, is what so much of the current conflicts over sexuality, open communion, and inclusive language is about in the first place.

Read the rest of this fine article HERE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting reflections; a bit scattered reference to the crumbly bread, but still thought-provoking...