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
Minster Vicarage, Highgate
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
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
107 West Grove
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