This is a series of responses to questions about an internet campus from a previous series of posts. Do you have any other questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to respond to each one. Thanks!
What about the sacraments?
This is a serious question and one of the more significant challenges for an internet campus of a United Methodist congregation. Holy Communion is understood to be a means of grace for United Methodists and should not be ignored. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, encouraged the taking of communion at any opportunity available.
I am not willing to suggest that sacraments could be administered online or remotely in any way. I recognize that others with different understandings of polity and theology will come to different conclusions here, but this is where I am today as a United Methodist. For baptism, I see three possibilities:
- Internet congregant would travel to a physical campus to be baptized
- Internet campus pastor would travel to baptize the internet congregant
- Internet congregant would be baptized at local congregation that was somehow connected to the internet campus (same denomination, pre-arranged plan, etc.)
For holy communion, I would suggest that the internet congregant receive this sacrament in another community of faith close to where she or he is living. Again, some sort of connection to the internet campus would be most desirable.
I recognize that none of these solutions are optimum. However, I do not think that the downsides here would be enough to prevent the possibility to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
Without the opportunity to have the “sacraments duly administered” it would not be possible to be defined as a local United Methodist church (2004 Book of Discipline, ¶201). Thus, an internet campus would necessarily be linked with an existing local church.
What do you think about my responses? How would you answer this question?