Thursday, May 11, 2006

Invited to a Service of Excommunication

We badly need authorised forms for public excommunication of persistent and notorious offenders.

An authorised form already exists, but it is minimal. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer instructs that the Minster will read out the names of the excommunicate before the supper in “notices”. No form of words is given but guidance is really needed as its such a serious, hard thing to do and easy to get wrong or wimp out.

I might have a go at writing experimental orders for excommunication of public and notorious offenders, and a version for use in absentia and an emergency private order of excommunication. Well, maybe not the last one.

Does anyone know if any other denominations have authorised forms? What do the American Evangelical Presbyterians do? Has anyone ever been present when someone was formally publicly excommunicated?

I imagine evangelical ministers exclude people from the Lord’s Supper from time to time. For example, if they have openly committed adultery and will not repent. However, simply doing it quietly is grossly inadequate if the sin is public and causing scandal. There must be a deterrent and the purity of the church must be publicly vindicated.

In the C of E, the incumbent / Presiding Elder may exclude public notorious offenders from the Supper on his own authority. But he must write to his Bishop informing him that he has done this and the Bishop can decide the case, I think. (Canons of the Church of England)

No comments: