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Members of a gathered church?

19 August 2016


Your answers
So far as I am aware, we in the Church of England do not subscribed to the Nonconformist gathered-church mentality, and by baptism we are members of the one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, and in confirmation we confirm our vows and are confirmed. Being a member of the Church places me in a parish and allows me to be on the parish register because I am a member of the wider Church living in the parish. Some Evangelical parishes appear to think otherwise, however. Which of us is right?


Galatians 3.26 and 27 tell us: “For through faith you are all sons of God in union with Christ Jesus. Baptized into union with him you have all put on Christ as a garment” (NEB). From these verse, we that a christian believe is united Christ by faith, andt hat fiath is signified by the willingness to undergo baptism as an attestation of that faith.

Second, “the Nonconformist gathered-church mentality” is amply supported by the scriptural texts 1 Corinthians 1.1, 6.1, and 11.18; Galatians 1.2; Ephesians 1.1; and 1 Thessalonians 1.1.

Your questioner should understand that ekklesia has only two usages in the New Testament. The first refers to the worldwide (catholic) Church, such as “Thou are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.” The second is the local representation of the catholic Church, that is, the gathered congregation, example of which are given above.

There is no designation for the collection of congregations in an area, no Church of Judaea or Galatia, for example. Each gathered congregation is viewed by Paul as the catholic Church in miniature in its locations.

From the above, I would suggest that every gathered congregation has a high status. Paul describes it as being “in God” and “in Christ”, “the ground and pillar of truth” and “the Household of Faith”. The local congregation is the workhorse unit of the Church, where the worship, work, and witness of the “the holy Church throughout all the world” are undertaken.

From the data in the New Testament, it is clear that the worldwide catholic Church is composed of Christian believers who are gathered in local congregations. It is not constituted by monarchical bishops who could fall ill at any moment and so immobilise the Church.
James Wilson


Your questions


At what age is it considered that an experienced Reader (or LLM) is too old to be ordained?

J. P.


Increasingly, communicants are retaining the consecrated wafer (or morsel of bread) and dipping it into the chalice when it arrives. Presumably they feel that the common cup is unhygienic, but surely this is worse: holding the wafer for a time in their sticky hand — recently been involved with the Peace — then, as often as not, allowing their fingertips to come into contact with the consecrated wine. Would a celebrant be justified in requiring, not requesting, those who wish to avoid the common cup to receive in one kind, and have the authority to do so; or must we put up with it?

R. A.


One week after his ordination to the priesthood, our new curate publicly announced from the pulpit that he had had to go through with it to get the job, but he did not believe in the ministerial priesthood. Should he have been ordained?


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