Tuesday, August 19, 2008

General Assembly Resolution: Lord's Supper Frequency

Note: Bracketed text [ ] are words that are to be deleted from the current Manual. Underlined text ___ are words that are to be added to the current Manual. - The paragraph below is included in the list of pastors' duties.

413.11. To administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper at least once a quarter. Acknowledging John Wesley's advice that elders should "administer the Supper of the Lord on every Lord's day," and recognizing that a weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper was the New Testament and historic norm, we encourage pastors to see quarterly administration as a bare minimum. We further encourage them to move towards a more frequent celebration of this means of grace. A licensed minister who has not complied fully . . .


FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
1. The quarterly system stems from the circuit rider days of frontier Methodism. It was an acquiescence to the fact that there were not enough ordained elders to serve each parish. Elders made a circuit, roughly on a quarterly basis. However, the whole reason for Wesley's ordination of elders for America was in order to have the sacraments.


2. John Wesley's strong advice was "Constant Communion," and his clear instruction was that elders were to administer the Lord's Supper each Lord's Day.


3. Wesley understood the Lord's Supper to be a vital foundation for the life of holiness and a vital means of maintaining such a life.


4. As liturgical scholars have noted, and as the Rev'd. Dr. William Greathouse, general superintendent emeritus has stated, ". . . every Lord's Day the early Christians celebrated Christ's atoning sacrifice by eating His Body and drinking His blood in the simple faith that He was present with them at the table." (In the Forward of Rob Staples, Outward Sign and Inward Grace.)


5. The pattern found in the New Testament is that of the celebration of the Eucharist each Lord's Day.


6. The current ecumenical consensus is that weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper should be seen as the Christian norm, even when the reality is that the sacrament is celebrated less frequently.


7. The proposed amendment would NOT require the observance of the Lord's Supper to take place more frequently than the current quarterly minimum. No further requirements would be imposed upon our clergy or congregations.


8. What the proposed amendment would do is make a statement consistent with our Wesleyan heritage, as well as the New Testament and historic Church.

3 comments:

Katharine said...

Hugh thinks if you think there is something wrong with frequent communion then you need to take it more often!

Daniel Coutz said...

I agree with Hugh

J.B. Chapman said...

I have sent this one to the Minnesota Distirct.