Ordination and presiding at Holy Communion: three of the papers given at the 2019 Study Day, hosted by the Church Service Society and the Scottish Church Society

Marjory MacLean

The Revd Dr Marjory MacLean, one of four speakers at the Study Day in 2019 to respond to a recent report to the General Assembly exploring the possibility of a new form of ministry of Word and Sacrament to support fresh expressions of being the church or where the scarcity of ordained ministers in scattered parishes reduced opportunities for Communion, spoke from the perspective of ministry in a parish with four worship centres and against a background of the law and the constitution of the Church of Scotland. The paper identified deeper questions including the nature of some forms of contemporary worship as well as the existence currently of the ministry of Reader (and others) authorised to preach the Word but not celebrate the Sacrament. Eschewing the use of ‘church’ without the definite article, and saying why, the paper sees ‘the church’ as geographically-definable and implying a continuity of relationship between a minister and the people, a ‘unique form of intimacy’, a mystical chain that connects the communicant to the divine through their local minister in the substance of their pastoral relationship; it also has to do with structures in that the task of providing the Sacrament – like the task of blessing the people – is that of the pastoral minister not of someone brought in to conduct the service that day. The paper also addresses the matter of wider pastoral care in fresh expressions and pioneer contexts (the ‘wider parish’ of those directly targeted by a special ministry) and situations where there is a sufficiency of accredited help in leading worship but no ordained minister. The paper concludes by tabling a series of questions which might guide future discussion.

Volume 54 2019, p18

Marjory MacLean is minister of Abernyte linked with Inchture and Kinnaird linked with Longforgan. She is currently Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Committee on Chaplains to HM Forces and was appointed in 1996 as Depute Clerk to the General Assembly, later serving as acting Principal Clerk in 2002- 2003, and again in 2009.