Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Virtual should we be?

This morning at General Assembly I attended a confab for people who serve on Committees on Ministry in their Presbyteries. One of the topics for discussion was from folks working in very rural areas. When a small, rural church in a remote area is without a Pastor there may not be any pastors available to preside at sacraments or to moderate a congregational or session meeting or to install/ordain officers. A pastor from an urban area pointed out that this can also be true when a non-English speaking congregation is without a pastor. There may not be a pastor nearby who can do what needs to be done in the language of that congregation. What to do? Someone floated the idea that with the advances in technology that make such things as virtual meetings possible, an isolated or non-English speaking church could potentially "beam in" a pastor from somewhere else in the Presbytery who could do some of this stuff remotely. If the set up was completely interactive and the "distance" pastor could hear and speak to the people in the remote location would this be okay?

What do you think? I'm leaning toward thinking it would be okay for things like moderating a session meeting or some other administrative task, but that for the sacraments, you really ought to be physically present.


Teri said...

i agree with you. there are times when a virtual meeting, as long s there's technology for visual and vocal interaction, could be great and helpful. but sacraments? no. commission an elder at least.

cheesehead said...

I'm with you and Teri.

Rev Kim said...

I agree with all of you as well. In Wyoming we have many rural parishes that face this same issue. The Presbytery has developed a very successful CLP program, and at least two CLPs are now serving conregations part-time and part of the commission includes celebrating the sacraments.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I'm with everyone else, from a pew sitter's point of view.

A virtual laying on of hands just would not work.