Ironically tomorrow at either end of the day the Methodist Church will do two things:
1. around 9.15am LIVESTREAM the Conference Communion Service - presumably so that Methodists across the country can feel some solidarity with those who are in Southport, can join with them in Worship.
2. around 4.30pm Debate a report which says such social presence in not fully possible unless you are physically present with those celebrating communion.
I have already sent out a couple of posts on this subject.
The Methodist Conference is debating Communion mediated by Social Media. It is recommended the following:
'The Faith and Order Committee recommends that the Conference adopt the policy that presbyters and other persons authorised to preside at the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper may not be permitted to use electronic means of communication, such as the internet or videoconferencing, in order to invite those not physically present at the celebration of the sacrament to participate by using their own communion bread and wine.'
This leaves little leeway.
In my thinking the ONLY justification is concerning presidency which is a matter of Church Order. I think this argument stands as long as Methodist polity of presbyteral presidency stands. As such, I would need to reluctantly abide by this ruling if it was passed. But if I was in the Conference, I would have to ask for the report to be sent back to F&O for reconsideration because of the issues relating to the other arguments, which are used to support this. I think they fall away pretty easily.
I don't think physical presence is the issue. I think that sufficient social presence is possible through social media to recognise the body of Christ in different locations at the same time. Solidarity does not mean you need to be physically present to each person you are in solidarity with. Most of all, I think the focus on physical presence could be used to argue that we cannot have solidarity with Christ or with the Church Triumphant.
But you know this.
As such, I'm joining those who wish to offer some form of digital dissent:
Will you be tweeting the picture too? Add the hashtag #methodistconf or the twitter handle @methodistgb