Vicar bans communion wine to make addicts feel welcome13th September, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
A vicar in Kent has stopped serving wine during holy communion due to the growing number of alcoholics in his congregation.
The Telegraph reports that Reverend Paul Filmer took the step for the first time last Sunday, using grape juice instead of red wine during communion.
He decided against using separate chalices because he didn’t want the “four or five” addicts in his 70-strong congregation to feel isolated during his services.
“This is a very new thing for us and quite rare in the Church of England. I didn’t feel like it was fair that some of our congregation may feel excluded from everybody else,” Filmer, who works at St Peter and St Paul Church in Yalding, told The Telegraph.
“The feedback has been positive so far but to go from a strong communion wine to grape juice has been a bit of a shock for some of my congregation,” he added.
Filmer, who was ordained in 1997, made the move due to the village church’s close association with the Kenward Trust, which runs a nearby rehab centre.
The Church of England states that the drink used for communion should be “the fermented juice of the grape, good and wholesome.”
“Some of my congregation have quite a devout ideology and have asked me why can’t they drink from a separate cup.
“There is the argument that Jesus used wine to deliver his communion, but my faith tells me that if Jesus was here he would want to make everybody feel welcome,” Filmer said.