Pastoral Policy

This policy statement is a summary in non-technical language of the official rules and regulations of ACSA – the “canons” and the “Acts” of the Diocese. In applying these “rules” the aim is to be caring in every way for people – whether parishioners or not.

The Anglican Church will generally bury anyone when approached by family members but there are important pastoral guidelines to be followed. Generally the Church will insist that a funeral should take place i.e. with the body present. A memorial service should not replace a funeral. The reasons for this are pastoral. It is well known that people cope much better with the grieving process when there has been a specific moment of separation from the deceased. Also when there is a funeral the body is able to be treated with the dignity it deserves as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” rather than being “dumped” in a way that affords no respect to the person’s mortal remains. Both these things come together very appropriately in a funeral service which is usually a very therapeutic occasion. It is also an occasion when friends and family can express love and support in a very helpful way. When the situation requires it a “committal” may take place at the undertakers’ premises with a few members of the family present after which a memorial may take place. All the details concerning the service(s) should be worked out with the priest. In very unusual situations it may be advisable to seek the advice of the Bishop. A person who has died may be either buried or cremated (or buried at sea). In the case of cremation the Committal usually takes place in the church as part of the service. In the case of a burial the committal will take place at the graveside. The venue for a funeral is usually a church but there is no reason, apart from practicalities, why it may not take place in another venue. A lay person may conduct a funeral.

The requirement is that both parties be baptised – not necessarily in the Anglican Church – but with water and in the name of the Trinity. The reason for this is that marriage by the church is a Christian ceremony. Marriage preparation with the couple is required. This will be arranged at times that are suitable. If the couple live far away from the church where the service is to be conducted they will probably need to have their preparation conducted in their locality. This should be discussed with the priest conducting the service. The Anglican marriage service is set out in the Anglican Prayer Book. During the meetings with the couple all the details concerning the service will need to be discussed and a date for a rehearsal arranged. In a situation when one party has been married before the process is a bit more complicated as the couple need to be interviewed by the Bishop after their initial interview with the priest. No firm date should be set for the marriage before this interview and the Bishop asks that a period of three months be allowed for before a prospective date for the marriage is made. During this period the Bishop will contact the couple to arrange an interview. The reason for this process is not just a matter of “red tape” but rather that past relationship issues be dealt with before a new relationship is entered into.

The couple should be members of the Parish inwhich they want their child baptized. When approached the priest will arrange for preparation which will normally take the form of several sessions to discuss the meaning of baptism. A mutually convenient date will be set for the service. When a couple wanting their child baptised live far away, e.g. overseas, they need to be in touch with their local priest who will be able to give his/her permission for another priest to act on his/her behalf. Adults may be baptised if they haven’t been baptised as children.

Admission to Communion before Confirmation
For some years now this has become the practice in many churches. The rationale is that according to the New Testament it is baptism that makes one a member of the church and therefore qualifies one to receive communion. It is very appropriate that baptized children should have the opportunity of receiving this sacrament from around the age of six, with their parents and older siblings. A preparation course will culminate in a service of admission at which a certificate is issued. The parents should be regular communicants in the Parish and should encourage their children likewise.

This rite is now seen to be appropriate as a more mature expression of faith in the later rather than the earlier teenage years, or even in early adulthood. Preparation is required and the date is normally set by the Bishop. Confirmation often takes place at boarding schools under the supervision of the school chaplain.

All the above services assume faith on the part of those seeking the blessing of the church. This is therefore an opportunity for a deepening of faith and involvement in the life of the church.