Bishop David Bard encourages the safe celebration of World Communion Sunday. He also speaks about the United Methodist stance and his views of Communion on-line.
BISHOP DAVID BARD
World Communion Sunday will be celebrated on October 4, 2020, and it will be the most unusual World Communion Sunday in any of our memories.
On this day, when the entire Christian Church has traditionally come together to share in the act of worship common to us all, we find ourselves in a time when gathering together and sharing food has been complicated by the coronavirus. For those of you who are meeting for worship in person, I encourage you to celebrate communion in ways that also promote health and well-being. Worship outdoors is safer than worship inside.
Individually wrapped elements distributed as people enter your worship space are helpful. If you wish to serve people, the servers should be masked and gloved, and those coming to receive communion should maintain social distancing. Of course, I encourage all of our churches to require masks of those coming for worship. I hope your congregation will consider participating in the World Communion Sunday Offering and collect that in a safe manner.
Questions about on-line communion remain relevant. As I’ve mentioned before, The United Methodist Church officially discourages the practice of on-line communion, believing that it inadequately represents the tangible, bodily, and communal elements central to the sacrament. At the same time, I am aware that communion on-line is already being practiced or actively considered.
Allow me to reiterate what I shared a few months ago when the pandemic was relatively new, and we thought we might return to full in-person worship sooner. We are followers of Jesus, who challenged traditions and rules when they seemed to stand in the way of grace. We are also followers of Jesus in the stream of John Wesley, who took to the fields to preach and ordained Thomas Coke. So, I recognize extraordinary times invite extensions of grace that might not be needed in ordinary times.
I plan to reflect more in my October blog on the means of grace in this challenging time.