Churchgoers have been told they can’t use their altar to serve refreshments from.
Worshippers at St Michael and All Angels Church in Uffington applied “for the provision of an oak table for Casewick Chapel which may occasionally be used as an altar”.
But Mark Bishop, Chancellor for Lincoln, and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court left no doubt that an altar is just that and not to be used to serve refreshments on.
He said: “I cannot permit a Faculty (permission) to be issued if the purpose of the table is to be used both as an altar and also as a ‘table to be used for serving refreshments.’”
He said that “an interchangeable use for the altar” was certainly not acceptable.
Quoting church law he said a “decent table of wood, stone or other suitable material” should be provided in every church or chapel for celebration of Holy Communion.
But he continued: “The table, as becomes the table of Lord, shall be kept in a sufficient and seemly manner, and from time to time repaired, and shall be covered in the time of Divine Service with a covering of silk or other decent stuff, and with a fair white linen cloth at the time of the celebration of the Holy Communion.
“It would be completely inappropriate for an altar to be used occasionally for the celebration of Holy Communion, but more frequently ‘for the service of refreshments’.
“The obligation of the Churchwardens is to ensure that the Lord’s Table is kept in a ‘sufficient and seemly manner’ and I am quite satisfied that what is proposed does not amount to that.”
Rodney Yates, who is chairman of the church fabric committee, said the church had been told that if they give an undertaking that the table would not be used for refreshments, then the installation of the altar would be approved.
He said members of the church intended to use another table for refreshments.
Mr Yates said: “If we give that undertaking, we are confident we will get approval.
“We were told of this decision two or three weeks ago.
“We are disappointed that we had to go through this bureaucratic process but we can get another table for refreshments.”
Mr Yates said the application was part of the church’s refurbishment project, which has included a revamp of the Casrewick Chapel and a new roof.