Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Filling the Pulpit

So I need a little advice. We are going to begin speeding up our transition to weekly Eucharist. I will be starting a sermon series entitled "The Ways We Worship" the last Sunday of August. I will be basing it off Lester Ruth's article "A Rose By Any Other Name" which attempts to categorize protestant worship. Among other things, he notes that people tend to experience God in one of three ways: music, preaching, communion. The first week I will introduce the idea, and then I will spend three weeks each with songs in scripture (Mary's Song, Zechariah's Song, Simeon's Song), sermons in scripture (Peter @ Pentecost, Stephen @ the Sanhedrin, Paul @ Areopagus), and The Lord's Supper in scripture (institution, means of grace, frequency). I will then conclude the series on Christ the King with a sermon titled "The Worship of God and the Mission of God" that will tie in each of the three ways we worship with the great commission. We will be celebrating Holy Communion weekly from All Saints through Epiphany... and hopefully beyond.

Anyway, one thing has been going through my mind lately is a practical question. What do I do when I am gone for a Sunday?
What I am doing is so foreign to typical Nazarene worship that I cannot just plug in some pulpit supply guy to do the liturgy, preach, and do communion. I cannot use a District Licensed, as I would not be there to supervise (along with the myriad of other issues with letting an unordained person "administer" communion). I would have to be able to have someone who like me is committed to word and table and is comfortable with leading "prayer book" worship.

So how do other liturgical Nazarenes handle the dilemma of "filling the pulpit" when the pastor is gone?


Mike McVey said...

District licensed ministers are allowed to administer communion. It it locally licensed ministers that need supervision.

Brannon Hancock said...

Mike is right. Also, "supervision" need not be on-site, in-person, during the service itself. It is perfectly acceptable (from the denomination's standpoint - your own liturgical convictions may incline you to a more strict practice) to teach, train, equip and empower someone to administer communion on your behalf - that is adequate "supervision" - i.e. you know about it, have informed how it will be administered, by whom, in what setting, etc. You are still "overseeing" it. Personally I would have no qualms about that using anyone with at least a local license.

Scott M. Collins said...

Basically, you don't get to take any Sundays off. Just kidding ;-) Where are you these days?

Mark said...

As a well established Nazcopalian I would say that you might not need to be so concerned about having Eucharist every single week. At my Episcopal church we lost our rector about a year ago and since that time we alternate every other week between full Eucharistic Rite and prayer services. Though not ideal, it has worked out quite well, with the congregation actually growing during this time. The Nazarene church I attend now offers communion almost every week, though it lacks much in the way of meaningful liturgy. I guess what I'm saying is, don't sweat the couple weeks you'll be gone if something can't be worked out. If my Nazarene church had been having weekly Eucharist 90% of the time years ago, I would likely not be a confirmed Episcopalian today. Given that, I might conclude that it was a fortunate set of circumstances that led me to make the move, but I have to say that the whole process did not conclude without some confusion and painful soulsearching along the way. Too bad it sometimes has to be that way. I am thankful for my brother in Christ, Brannon, who has been of great encouragment to me along my journey.

Steven said...

The Manual of the CotN says,

427.7:Licensed ministers preparing for the order of Elder...shall also be vested with authority to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper in their own congregations...

You can only administer the sacrament in your local Church either as a Pastor or member of that Church.

But not outside your local Church Body. Thats how it was when I was a CotN Pastor.



Brannon Hancock said...

Not sure I'm following the point you're making Steven. Are you saying that a licensed or ordained elder has no authority to administer the sacraments outside of his local appointment? Or are you just pointing out that the local pastor has the final authority over who administers the sacraments in her/his local context? I've never heard anyone make the former point (although I suppose your reading of 427.7 is sound), but I have no disagreement with the latter.

I've kind of come full circle on this, I confess. At one point, I probably would have said something like what Eric said in his original post: that it's problematic to let an un-ordained person administer or "preside over" the sacrament(s). But this is really a foreign concept to our tradition and polity. One who holds this high a sacramental view (and regards ordination as a sacrament) should probably go join an ecclesial tradition to which such views are indigenous. I DO think at least a licensed minister should oversee and "authorize" the administration of the sacrament, and I do understand the conviction that a licensed or ordained minister should consecrate the elements in the event that a lay person or locally licensed minister is going to be the one serving communion. But I don't think I can really justify (anymore - at least as a Nazarene; again, if I feel this strongly, I need to just go become an Episcopalian) the view that every celebration of the sacrament must be actively (as in, on-site, in person, during the service) presided over by an ordained minister.

Steven said...


All I was trying to say was, that in the CotN DL ministers can only administer communion in their local Churches or own congregations. Not sure why that is? Just thought folks would like to know what CotN polity was on DL ministers administering the Sacraments. CotN Elders can administer the Sacraments in any Nazarene Church. Now as a Orthodox Christian what I believe would be way different from what most Nazarenes believe. But that was not my piont here.



Brannon Hancock said...

Steven: I gotcha. Sorry I was confused...but that clarifies. I wasn't making the distinction.

I suspect you WOULD hold a different view now, wouldn't you! And really, I guess that's what I'm affirming...if one's sacramentality inclines them to a much more strict or exclusivist understanding of the sacrament(s) than our polity really makes room for, I'd say perhaps the better context would be a church that more closely matches one's convictions. But on the other hand, I tend to want to challenge the notion of choosing a church (in general) especially based on which church most lines up with what I already think/believe/etc.

Joseph said...

This issue is one of the reasons I am for deacons in all local churches. If every church had an ordained, or licensed, deacon, then in the absence of the pastor/elder the deacon has the same authority in worship and administration.

The Nazarene understanding of the diaconate is in desperate need of discussion. Deacons are an asset to the Church that need to be promoted and supported.

Good post. Peace to all.

Eric + said...

Yes, so long as we can move toward an historical theology of the diaconate as the ministry of word and service. But then again, it still wouldn't help when it comes to eucharistic worship.

Joseph said...


We wouldn't have to revert back to an historical theology of the diaconate. Unlike the Catholic and Anglican interpretations of the diaconate where the deacon is called to be (among other things) an assistant in administering the sacraments, in the Church of the Nazarene, I imagine for reasons of pragmatism (but unknowingly following the 17th Century Latitudinarian position of an equality of authority for the ordained), believe the deacon and elder (presbyter) are equal in authority but differ in regular office.

In other words, the Church of the Nazarene in the laying on of hands by the GS proclaims the same authority is given to deacons as elders. It doesn't mean that they perform the same office, but they manifest the same authority. Therefore, deacons may administer, without supervision or aid, the sacraments because they manifest the same authority, which derives ultimately from Christ.

This does not mean it is their primary role/office/function; I believe an historical theology of the diaconate is appropriate for a majority of the time, but a provision, based upon a theology of ordination that establishes and equality amongst the ordained in authority, which allows the deacon to fulfill the role of an elder in the absence of the elder, is uniquely significant in our church's articulation of these two offices.

Understanding the clergy (elders and deacons) as first Ordained (called of God and recognised/set apart by the Church) points to a deeper reality than the function they perform.

This discussion points to the following post about ordination as a conversation that needs to take place, a conversation that I am dedicated to in my current studies and writing.


J.B. Chapman said...

Whatever happened to the nazareneliturgy.com site?

I still stop by here once a week or so, so if you were to ramp up a new site with resources, I would be keen to visit quiet often.

BTW - thanks for having this site up, its encouraging.