Friday, April 17, 2020

Retraction of Virtual Holy Eucharist

Retraction of Virtual Holy Eucharist

Please read the following letter from the bishop.

April 17, 2020 

Dear Friends, 

With apologies for this late notification, I am writing to rescind my authorization of virtual consecration of the elements of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist. After a gracious conversation with the office of the Presiding Bishop, I understand that virtual consecration of elements at a physical or geographical distance from the Altar exceeds the recognized bounds set by our rubrics and inscribed in our theology of the Eucharist. I am grateful for the collegiality of the House of Bishops and the love expressed to me, and to all of us, in the conversations, I have had.

So what shape should our worship at home take during a time of pandemic? Clearly, we will still gather virtually and maintain the rich community we have established using a variety of electronic platforms. We do not consecrate elements virtually. However, our priests—gathering with one or more persons at a safe distance—may celebrate the Holy Eucharist and live-stream those liturgies or post videos after the fact. Participating in those prayers from home draws us into union with Christ and one another. Alternatively, we may worship using Morning Prayer as we have done during the preceding weeks, confident that praying this liturgy together also draws us into union with Christ and his Body.

The COVID-19 Pandemic puts us in uncharted territory. My desire and intention is to respond pastorally to you all and to continue to proclaim Christ in a meaningful, reverent way. For the help my bishop colleagues have provided in my efforts, I offer thanks. Our worship will be better for it. And to the faithful, loving people of this Diocese, thank you for the love and support you show again and again to your imperfect bishop. Please forgive me for any confusion and disappointment that this action has caused you.

You are loved. And you remind me daily that Christ loves us all.

Peace in Christ, 

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, PhD, DD 
4th Bishop of Western Louisiana