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Announcing the name of the celebrant

05 September 2014


From the Revd Jeremy Fletcher
Sir, - Mavis Jacobs (Letters, 29 August) invites churches to publish the name of the president of the eucharist so that traditionalists visiting a new church will not be embarrassed. Though this has been the practice at Beverley for some years, it is not without its pitfalls.

A simple error in the notice sheet, or a last-minute change of president, can cause much the same difficulty. I am grateful for the grace with which the situation is handled here by those for whom the matter is one of conscience.

More generally, simply naming the president can cause even greater difficulty. Is Hilary male or female? What about Chris? Evangelical students I once knew refused to go to a Christian Union session led by a Val, as they did not believe a woman should teach. The male Val in question was well worth hearing. In one congregation, we had both a male Carol and a female Adrian.

Of course we should be clear, gracious, and open, and honour our differences. But naming the president might make things worse. Your correspondent may need other hints before she walks through the door.

Minster Vicarage, Highgate
Beverley HU170DN


From Mr John Stanning
Sir, - Mavis Jacobs seeks to ensure that traditionalists away from home may avoid "the embarrassment of sitting through a service unable to receive the Sacrament".

It is a pity that her reaction to omission of a name - which can occur for many reasons - is to feel that it "looks like an attempt to bully us into submission". It is common, in my experience, for some members of a congregation to choose not to receive the Sacrament, for various reasons; Mrs Jacobs need feel no embarrassment.

Sleepers Hill House
George Eyston Drive
Winchester SO22 4PE

From Mr David Bambridge
Sir, - Mavis Jacobs will, I am sure, be pleased to learn that St Edmundsbury Cathedral always includes, in its website list of services, the name of the celebrant at each eucharist. If the good people at this cathedral are able to do this, why is this important piece of information denied to would-be worshippers at other cathedrals?

107 West Grove
Woodford Green
Essex IG8 7NP


From Serena Lancaster
Sir, - By all means, let churches announce the celebrant's name: you would expect transparency when registering with a surgery. Of course, you might prefer to be seen by a male or by a female doctor, depending, but it would be foolish to hold out for your first choice in all circumstances.

The elderly organist chose to remain seated when others went up for communion. The president chose to assume that he was lame and so brought the bread and wine - the body and blood of Christ - to him. Later, she said gently: "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

Didn't a woman once bear the Christ in her body?

The Gables, Broadwell
Gloucestershire GL56 0UF

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