For five weeks this summer we heard Gospel lessons about Jesus as the Bread of Life. This seems to be a good time to write about receiving communion in the Episcopal Church, as that’s another area, like confirmation, where our practices have changed.
Anyone who is baptized in any Christian tradition is welcome to receive communion in the Episcopal Church, no matter their age or what tradition they were baptized in. So, children are welcome to receive as soon as they are baptized. It used to be that only those people who had been confirmed as Episcopalians were allowed to receive, but that restriction was removed in the 1970s. And of course I don’t ask for baptismal certificates at the communion rail!
The Episcopal Church does not have a formal tradition of “First Communion” classes or ceremonies. Some parishes offer worship education classes to help children learn how to follow the service and to deepen their appreciation of what is happening, but there is no requirement that children receive formal instruction. After all, none of us fully understands in an intellectual way what is happening in communion, and there are many examples which show that children are able to understand it on a profound emotional level.
If you have a young person who attends church with you and you think some worship education would be a benefit, or if you would like resources to use at home, let me know. If you as an adult would like to refresh or deepen your understanding, please speak with me about joining some of the Confirmation preparation/adult inquiry sessions I will be offering in the fall.
With so many Roman Catholics in Rhode Island, I will also note that from the perspective of the Episcopal Church, Roman Catholics are always welcome to receive communion in our churches, although the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church is quite different.
If you have any questions about our communion practices, or any other part of worship, let me know and I’ll address it in a sermon or announcement or newsletter article! If you have a question, someone else surely does too!