Questions for Episcopalian Priests

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by paulnabon, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. paulnabon

    paulnabon New Member

    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christianity
    Hello!

    I am a Baptist, and I have very limited knowledge on the Anglican Church. I was wondering if some of you could help me out by answering a few questions.

    1. Why did you enter ministry—Divine Call or Vocational Choice?

    2. How were you ordained, prerequisites, process, service, benefits?

    3. Who is eligible for baptism, who administers baptism, when is baptism administered, what is the significance of baptism?

    4. Lord’s Supper: What do you call it: Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist, What is the difference? Who is eligible to receive, who administers, what is the significance?

    5. If you are married, what is your spouse’s sense of call and support of your ministry vocation?

    Thank you for your time!
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  2. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,006
    Likes Received:
    1,802
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    American Anglican
    Great questions Paul. I hope someone can provide you with some answers.

    Also, welcome aboard. We will no doubt be blessed by your perspective. And hopefully be a blessing to you as well.
     
  3. Fr. Bill

    Fr. Bill Member

    Posts:
    43
    Likes Received:
    29
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Oh dear, Paul! Your questions have languished here almost a month. As I've admitted in other places, I came into Anglican pastoral ministry from the outside, and perhaps my answers to your questions will reflect that. Here's what a non-cradle Anglican would answer. Perhaps I'll jar someone else into coming out of the shadows to give their answers, especially where they differ from mine.

    1. Why did you enter ministry—Divine Call or Vocational Choice?

    Outside Anglican Christianity, I entered unordained ministry at the age of 23. I finished a non-Anglican 140-hour graduate seminary course and was ordained (again, non-Anglican ordination; similar to what a Baptist church would do) at the age of 27. Ordination in an Anglican jurisdiction (one of the so-called Continuing Anglican Churches in the USA) occurred many years later, when I was 57. The tenth anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate is next month; a year later the tenth anniversary of my priesting.

    Call? Choice? Why can it not be both?

    2. How were you ordained, prerequisites, process, service, benefits?

    The non-Anglican ordination was by a Board of Elders of an independent Protestant congregation, a "virtual" Baptist congregation in polity, policies, and practices, though not formally a member of any association of Baptist congregations. Prerequisites included a track record of ministry sufficient to demonstrate capacity and competence, sufficient mastery of Bible and Christian theology demonstrated through completion of a seminary program and oral examinations by the Board of elders. Process was as in any Baptist body -- prayer and laying on of hands by the elders. The most immediate benefit was the "credentialing" that ordination conferred.

    In my case, the Anglican ordination much later in life required (in prnciple) the same sorts of prerequisites. My prior seminary training was credited for much of the academic work customarily required of postulants. I did independent "leveling studies" in Anglican history, liturgy, and sacramental theology (never addressed in my Baptistic seminary studies decades before). The decision to orain me was made by the bishop who performed the ordination. That process involves a liturgy laid out in the Prayer Book. Benefits? Well, credentialing is certainly there. But, the ordination invested me with a few capacities that Anglicans take more seriously than low-church Protestants, chief among them the responsibility to be the bishop's vicar in the nurturing of Christ's flock, by setting forth God's true and lively Word and rightly and duly administering His holy sacraments.

    3. Who is eligible for baptism, who administers baptism, when is baptism administered, what is the significance of baptism?

    I'll take the last question first, since Baptists and Anglicans are different as regards baptism's significance. In my Southern Baptist days, I was baptized in connection with a series of revival meetings when I was a 10-year old boy. Baptism was a public ritual proclamation that I had put my trust in Christ's death on the cross to save me from the coming judgment on sinners, and because I had already believed the gospel, my baptism was merely testimonial to that earlier profession of faith in Christ. Anglicans, on the other hand, see baptism as an initiatory rite which places the baptized person into the Church and identifies the baptizee (is there such a word?) as a member of that community of Christians.

    Beyond this, Anglicans will add various features to the significance of baptism, some of them soteriological, others not. To avoid writing a book, I'll stop here and await any further followup question you may have (also any additional comments made by others here, if they'll just do it!).

    Anglicans administer baptism to adults upon profession of faith in Christ (much as Baptists would). Anglicans also administer baptism to the children of at least one believing parent who asks the Churcht o receive his/her child into the fellowship of the Church. And, Anglicans will also baptize infants, which Baptists would refuse to do, as they lack the requisite ability to testify coherently to a faith in Christ.

    Ordinarily, the priest of the parish administers baptism, though a deacon may do so as well. Indeed, any Anglican Christian -- male or female -- may administer baptism, though it would be out of the ordinary for baptism to occur this way. From 1990 to 2004, I was an Episcopal layman, and when I joined the local Episcopal parish, I did not wish to do it with my fingers crossed behind my back. But, the priest offered to allow me to baptism my four children, and I did so at the Easter Vigil in the year 1990. Their ages were 9, 7 3, and 1.

    Baptism is administered by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling, with water, using a Trinitarian formula ("I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost").

    4. Lord’s Supper: What do you call it: Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist, What is the difference? Who is eligible to receive, who administers, what is the significance?

    It's called all these thing, Paul. There is no material difference in the rite or the liturgy. For what it's worth, I observe that parishes on the low-church end of the spectrum tend to call it the Lord's Supper; parishes on the high-church end tend to call it Holy Eucharist. But that's not a hard and fast rule

    Those eligible to receive are baptized Christians who live in love and charity with their neighbors. They are disqualified from receiving if they are living in unrepented sin or in conflict with another Christian. A faithful priest will admonish his flock and warn them not to take the sacrament unworthily, since they would eat and drink judgment to themselves, as St. Paul himself warns the Corinthians in 1 Corl 11.

    The ones authorized to consecrate bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of the Lord is the Bishop and his vicar, the priest. In an ordinary liturgy, bread and wine as so consecrated using the Order of Service for Holy Communion in the Prayer Book. If a priest or bishop is not present, but there is bread and wine consecrated by a priest or biship at an earlier liturgy, an Anglican deacon can, with the permission of the bishop, perform what is commonly called a "Deacon's Mass," where he presides at the usual Prayer Book liturgy for Holy Communion, omitting a specific paragraph from the prayer of consecration (it's not needed, you see; and he's not authorized to speak it any way).

    In our parish, I distribute the bread to communicants who come to the altar rail to receive it from me, while our deacon administers the cup (we use one cup, not a great many as you're used to doing in a Baptist service).

    Significance? Well, Anglicans and Baptists agree that the communion is a memorial to what happened at the Cross. The prayer of consecration makes several mentions of this memorial aspect of the supper. However, Anglicans believe that the communion is not merely memorial (that's the Baptist view), but rather has significance in addition to its memorial nature. We believe that somehow the bread and wine at their consecration become the body and blood of the Lord Himself. Such a belief is called a belief in the Real Presence of the Lord in the consecrated matter of the communion, and this belief is shared by Anglicans, Romans, the Orthodox, the Lutherans, and even by some orthodox Presbyterians.

    It is worth mentioning here that this belief in the Real Presence is NOT a belief in the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation was Aquinas' attempt to explain how/why Christ's presence is real. The Romans committed a grievous error by elevating such an idea to the level of dogma, insisting that once cannot be a member of the Roman Church unless he confess, teach, and defend Aquinas' explanation.

    5. If you are married, what is your spouse’s sense of call and support of your ministry vocation?

    I have been married 33 years now. We married late -- she was 30, I was 34. She already had a thriving ministry to college-age women in the city where we had both graduated from undergraduate school. We married a few years after I had finished seminary, in my first solo pastorate. One reason I married her was her commitment to Christian ministry, and her enthusiastic support for my vocation as a pastor.

    I hope this is helpful.
     
  4. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird Member

    Posts:
    51
    Likes Received:
    16
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Paulnabon, thank you for your questions.

    I am not ordained, so my response is not directly on point. I hope you don't mind me making a few remarks from a layman's perspective.

    1. Let me tell you why I am not a priest. I find the intellectual and liturgical aspects of the presbyterate (priesthood) very appealing. However, I fear I would make a botch of the pastoral aspect! A priest needs to be reasonably capable in all three of these areas. Two-out-of-three is insufficient. But I can barely manage my own spiritual life, let alone help others with theirs. For this reason I conclude that I do not have a call to the presbyterate/priesthood.

    2. In the Episcopal church we have always required a formally-educated presbyterate. The normal track that I have observed some of my friends undergo, is three years of formal and practical education at a seminary, during which the candidate maintains contact with the sponsoring parish church and diocese. After this is ordination to the diaconate, followed a year or so after by ordination to the priesthood.

    In my diocese, and others that I know of, we also have deacons who do not go on to become priests. In my observation they lead exemplary lives of service.

    3.4. I deem these to be your most significant questions. In the Episcopal Church we believe in the priesthood of all believers. In an emergency, any baptized Christian may baptize other Christians. In pathological circumstances (such as the case of the proverbial castaways on an uninhabited island) , in my opinion, any community of baptized Christians can preach the word and administer the sacraments. But I see no contradiction between this view and the view that, ordinarily, the presidency of the sacraments should, as a matter of good order, be reserved to formally-ordained presbyters. Having a formally-ordained presbyterate, and reserving the presidency of the sacraments to them in all but the most extreme circumstances, gives us a measure of protection against the whims and enthusiasms (and sometimes corruption) of the eloquent and cunning. Bishops and priests might not be good in all cases, but on the average, having them makes things less bad than they would otherwise be.

    5. While there are advantages to a celibate priesthood, experience clearly shows that a call to celibacy and a call to the presbyterate don't always fall on the same individual. Among my fellow parishoners are my retired bishop and his wife. It looks to me as though the two were meant for each other.
     

Share This Page