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‘Best barbecue garb’

27 September 2013

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.


Your answers

The figure in best barbecue garb approached; huge hairy arms offered me the chalice. Sandals did not conceal socks ringed in more than all the colours of the rainbow. Is this justified because half the congregation is similarly dressed? Is any direction given to those licensed to assist at communion?

A dress code for a lay eucharistic assistant is outside the purview of canon law or rubrical directions. It is only possible to offer some reflections in support of the view that those who assist the distribution of holy communion at the eucharist should be dressed in ordinary lay person's attire.

Theirs is a lay ministry from within the congregation: this is made clear when a lay minister comes from the pews, and, having administered communion in the sanctuary, rejoins the congregation for the post-communion. Ordinary dress sends out the correct signal: the minister, as the laity's representative, is identified and identifiable with them.

More tantalising is the question what will be regarded as acceptably appropriate dress to be worn while administering the sacrament. There will be a host of views, but the size of the church, the style of worship, and local custom all need to be taken into account.

In the questioner's experience, surprising and unusual as it was, the principle of representative identification was boldly but justifiably demonstrated. Informal dress, even when it is unusual, need not signify irreverence.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire

We should be careful of adopting too strict an approach. Turning our nose up at shorts and sandals could be interpreted as Pharisaical. But good order is important, too, and I would be inclined to adopt the approach of my liturgy tutor at college, who, though partial to shorts, socks, and sandals, recommended that those ministering in the sanctuary should wear nothing that would distract the communicants from the sacrament that was being offered.

(The Revd) Alexander Battey
Old Basing, Basingstoke

I would dress otherwise, but when one reflects that it was Christ ministering his blood, it hardly seems to matter.

Mark Ashworth, London N21


Your questions

Is there any theological or missional rationale for moving a diocesan bishop from one diocese to another?  A. G.

Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG. questions@churchtimes.co.uk

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