SHOULD WE OFFER COMMUNION TO PEOPLE BEFORE THEY ARE BAPTIZED?
Just a few years ago, almost every Episcopal Church used the same invitation to the eucharist: “All baptized Christians are welcome to receive the eucharist.” Then something changed. And it changed quickly. Today you can hear a wide range of invitations offered by the priest or printed in the bulletin. Some of them will still mention “baptized Christians.” But you also will hear many different versions of an “open” invitation.
What happened? Why did so many in the church suddenly and swiftly move from limiting the eucharist to only those who are baptized Christians to making it available to all who choose to receive? And what are we saying, to ourselves and non-Christians, in these differing invitations?
This book of essays is designed to give you a chance to hear the voices of several different perspectives. These are voices of people who spoke up in blogs, online forums and other public venues and were invited to put their thoughts into writing for other to use as a jumping off point. These essays are not designed to provide answers, but rather to ask questions—questions our church needs to struggle with as we decide which of these two primary sacraments comes first: baptism or eucharist?
The 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church considered revising a canon that would have made inviting anyone to receive the official policy of the church. While this canonical change was defeated, this will be a topic of serious theological discussion in our church for some time to come. This book is ideal for bishops and deputies, adult education groups, liturgical committees, clergy and lay leaders who want to look at the issue from multiple perspectives and think about how our liturgical practices fit today's church and world.
Joe Doss, Rick Fabian, Tobias Haller, Elizabeth Kaeton, Dan Martins, Donald Schell, L. Zoe Cole, Linda L. Grenz
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