(Christian Century) John Buchanan on World Communion Sunday–Shared meal

World Communion Sunday is one of the best ideas Presbyterians ever had. The idea originated in the 1930s, a time of economic turmoil and fear and the rise of militaristic fascism abroad. Hugh Thomson Kerr, a beloved pastor in the Presbyterian Church, persuaded the denomination to designate one Sunday when American Christians would join brothers and sisters around the world at the Lord’s Table.

The idea caught on. Other denominations followed suit and the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) endorsed World Communion Sunday in 1940. But though the day is still noted in some denominational calendars and program materials, it doesn’t seem to be considered as important as it once was.

Of course, every Sunday is in a sense World Communion Sunday insofar as many churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. But we do not welcome one another at the Lord’s Table….

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

3 comments on “(Christian Century) John Buchanan on World Communion Sunday–Shared meal

  1. Catholic Mom says:

    [blockquote] As we pressed this issue, it became clear that we had not resolved disagreements about the nature of the church. Lewis Mudge, a Presbyterian theologian, spoke up: “You’re still saying that we are not a true church, aren’t you?” We remained, for them, an “ecclesial community,” not a church—so no sharing of communion. [/blockquote]

    I’m still confused about why this is confusing. Do the people who write these things understand what the requirements are for *Catholics* to receive communion? Here are just two that a Presbyterian could not meet: 1) having completed a program of study on the meaning of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church (as a child or as an adult) 2) having gone to confession within an appropriate period of time.

    Two years ago I was at the Catholic funeral of an elderly woman and there were a number of her grandchildren who were “lapsed” Catholics, and the priest stood up before communion and said that people who were not currently practicing Catholics should not receive communion, and a number of her grandchildren then abstained. So it has nothing to do with being members of “ecclesial communities.” It has to do with not being a practicing Roman Catholic. If the grandchildren in this situation *had* wished to receive at their grandmother’s funeral, they would have had to go to confession. Why then would it be appropriate for a Presbyterian to receive?

  2. Charles52 says:

    Not to mention that Catholics regard Orthodoxy as true Churches, but we still aren’t in Communion. It’s not just ecclesiology. The author also spoke of Communion as “commemorating” Jesus and conveying “something of…his grace”. This is something less than the Real Presence as believed by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglo-Catholic s, and at least some Lutherans.

  3. TomRightmyer says:

    Frequency of communion has varied over the years. In the late Middle Ages most lay people made their communion once a year, monks and clergy more frequently. In British America the usual Sunday Church of England service was Morning Prayer, Litany and Ante-Communion through the Nicene Creed and the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church militant here in earth. At Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, and a fall Sunday commonly near St. Michael’s Day September 29 the communicants stayed for the General Confession, Absolution, Comfortable Words, Preface, Sanctus, Prayer of Humble Access, Prayer of Consecration, Lord’s Prayer and Communion. Communion was administered on these feasts in the parish church and on the Sundays following in the chapels of ease. This pattern was followed in the dissenting churches – Winter (Christmas), Spring (Easter), early Summer (Whitsunday) and Fall (Michaelmas). As population increased Communion was administered monthly, usually on the first Sunday. Before 1785 clergy admitted to communion those “ready and desirous” commonly after private examination, with due consideration to a godly manner of life. The spiritual renewal of the Oxford Movement led to fasting communion at a weekly service early Sunday morning. The combined service began to be divided before the Civil War. Many parishes dropped the Ante-Communion particularly when surpliced choirs began to sing more complex chants to the canticles. Later others dropped the Litany except in Lent. The Communion service shorn of Morning Prayer and Litany but with one priest saying the whole of both sentences of administration to each communicant was still a long service.

    I think the custom of all Protestant churches having communion in early October predates any formal recognition as World Wide Communion Sunday.