What did the laity experience?
Throughout the lockdown, most laity felt well supported by their clergy (51%) and by the members of their church (49%). A high proportion accessed services online (91%), but this figure needs to be read against the fact that these were people also responding to an online survey.
Among those who attended online services, the sense of participation was not as high as may have been expected. About two-fifths reported that during online services they actually prayed (40%) or recited the liturgy (36%), but fewer reported that they joined in singing (27%).
Privatising holy communion
The lockdown brought into sharp focus questions about celebrating and receiving communion. The survey revealed some significant differences between the views of those giving ministry and those receiving ministry. Whereas 41% of laity agreed that it was right for clergy to celebrate holy communion in their own homes without broadcasting the service to others, only 31% of ministers did so.
Similarly, 43% of laity argued that it was right for people at home to receive communion from their own bread and wine as part of an online communion service, compared with 34% of clergy.
The survey also revealed divided opinion between people from different traditions: 49% of Anglo-Catholics agreed that it was right for clergy to celebrate communion in their homes without broadcasting the service to others, compared with only 25% of Evangelicals.
Conversely, only 23% of Anglo-Catholics argued that it was right for people at home to receive communion from their own bread and wine as part of an online communion service, compared with 55% of Evangelicals.
Coronavirus, Church & You Survey: an in-depth look at the preliminary results https://t.co/DbZzYmLpfD
— Church Times (@ChurchTimes) June 25, 2020