Easy Come, Easy Go

One of the major topics debated at the last General Convention was “open communion.” The traditional practice of the Church has been to admit only baptized persons to receive the bread and wine at communion. In fact, only in recent years have Episcopalian children and others who are baptized but not confirmed been allowed to communicate.

Some self-declared progressive churches have taken it upon themselves to change this custom (and ignore the underlying canon law), admitting anyone to communion who would like to receive. This supposedly shows the openness of God to feed all his children, whether members of the Christian club or not.

The spirit behind this impetus is admirable but the Convention apparently stuck with tradition. A solid reason for doing so is the desire to show that at least some commitment is required to be a Christian. The communion represents the gifts of God for the people of God–not the gifts of God for anyone who happens to show up in church. If there are no boundaries between Christians and non-Christians, why would anyone bother to join the church?

Still, it behooves us who adhere to tradition to still be open. One delegate to General Convention from the Diocese of New York suggested that when the baptized are invited to receive communion, the unbaptized should also be invited to be baptized! —J. Douglas Ousley

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