ALL communicants at St Peter and St Paul's, Yalding, in Kent,
now receive non-alcoholic wine, in deference to the residents of a
rehabilitation centre situated near by.
The PCC of the church voted in July to approve the change, and
it has been in place since 1 September. The Vicar of Yalding with
Collier Street, the Revd Paul Filmer, is Chaplain to the Kenward
Trust, which runs a rehabilitation centre for men seeking to
overcome addiction to alcohol and drugs. The residents of the
centre are encouraged to attend the church, which is less than a
mile away. This month, Mr Filmer said that, since his arrival in
Yalding in 2009, he had been considering ways in which these
congregants could take communion without drinking alcohol.
"We had two options: to have an alternative non-alcoholic
communion wine for those who preferred it, or to serve
non-alcoholic wine to everyone. After much prayer and thought, we
went for the latter as a more inclusive way forward, and one which
will not in any way stigmatise any members of the
The chief executive of the Kenward Trust, Angela Painter, said
that the residents were "very flattered that the church has decided
to go down this very supportive route. In the past, some of our
residents would have had concerns about the risks involved in
taking of the Holy Communion wine, and may have also felt
uncomfortable by not doing so. This way, they will be treated just
the same as all other members of the congregation."
Mr Filmer is using non-alcoholic wine from Frank Wright Mundy
& Co., which is produced exclusively for the purposes of holy
communion. Mr Filmer said that "de- alcoholised" wine had been
rejected "as it still contains 0.5-per-cent alcohol content.
Offering this as totally non-alcoholic was seen to be dishonest and
undermining of the Kenward Trust objectives of absolute
Canon B 17 of the Church of England stipulates that communion
wine should be "the fermented juice of the grape, good and
wholesome". Notes to the Celebration of Holy Communion at Home or
in Hospital in Common Worship: Pastoral Services states
that "Communion should normally be received in both kinds
separately, but where necessary may be received in one kind,
whether of bread or, where the communicant cannot receive solid
Mr Filmer said: "The letter of the law gives us a fixed
reference from which to exercise the spirit of the law. I am
pleased that our church council has decided to use this opportunity
to love our neighbours as ourselves."
On Tuesday, he said that no negative comments had been received
from members of the congregation.
A statement from the diocese of Rochester, on Wednesday, said
that the Bishop, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, who is a Patron of
the Kenward Trust, "fully understands and supports the desire of
Revd Paul Filmer and his PCC to respond pastorally to the needs of
those seeking to overcome alcohol dependency".
Of canon law, the statement said that "there may have been some
lack of clarity about the interpretation of this requirement, but
there are pastorally sensitive ways in which to respond to the
particular needs of this group of parishioners. The Bishop will be
working with Revd Filmer and his PCC to find a good way forward for