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General Convention to consider proposal to end Episcopal Church’s baptism requirement for Communion

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by CallofChrist, May 11, 2022.

  1. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    General Convention to consider proposal to end Episcopal Church’s baptism requirement for Communion

    The resolution that generated the most discussion, and some of the strongest opinions, was a measure proposed by the Diocese of Northern California that would repeal the Episcopal canon that requires worshipers to be baptized before receiving Communion in Episcopal churches.

    Martin Heatlie testified on behalf of Episcopalians in Northern California who researched the issue. “We could not find anything in the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer that required baptism as a prerequisite for receiving Communion,” Heatlie said. When priests say “the gifts of God for the people of God” before distributing the bread and wine, that means everyone, the diocese concluded.

    “We all believe that all people are God’s people, so it’s not just the gifts of God for just baptized people,” Heatlie said...
     
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  2. tampasteve

    tampasteve Lost in the swamp Staff Member Administrator CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team Supporter

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    Interesting, I did not realize the requirement was still "on the books". I have been to several Episcopal churches where it was clearly expressed that anyone that believed, or even if you did not believe but were discerning, was welcome at the table.
     
  3. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    Yeah that is news to me, too.

    One thing that confuses me, though, is that I had to provide info on my baptism, first communion and confirmation before I was received into the Church, but I was never forbidden from partaking of communion before I was received.
     
  4. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    The policy of the Episcopal Church has long been that all baptized Christians (regardless of the denomination/church in which they were baptized) are welcome at Communion. The only controversial bit is whether unbaptized people are also welcome. So, while your church of origin matters for the membership paperwork, it doesn't matter when you come to the Communion rail.

    I know that the tradition of restricting Communion to only baptized people goes way back to the early church, and that there is good reason for the tradition. But, with that acknowledged, I welcome the change in canon law. In modern times, we have people in all stages of religious discernment. Some are Christians but are not baptized (such as Quakers). Some aren't sure whether there is a God, but are drawn to search for God anyway. Some have been badly hurt by the church and don't really trust the church any more, but are still seeking God. For people like these, if they come to seek God in my church, I want to welcome them. I believe that God is truly present in the Sacrament, and I don't want to turn anyone away from that.
     
  5. CallofChrist

    CallofChrist Active Member Supporter

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    Thanks for that info, @PloverWing That answers a lot of questions
     
  6. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Note that I am outside America and therefore not directly affected by the decision.

    I would be deeply uncomfortable with this change, because I don't think taking communion should be done lightly. While "must have been baptised" is in many cases a pretty low bar, having a bar at all says that this is something we - and the recipients - should take seriously, as a significant spiritual reality. I would worry that saying that anyone may come with no restrictions at all basically cheapens the sacrament and its place in Christian life.

    There are times when an exception should be made; I will note that in fact, I received communion before I was baptised and believe that was pastorally appropriate in my particular circumstances. But allowing for a pastoral exception is quite different than open slather, as it were.

    And, I should add, I don't see this as an obstacle to communion, particularly. If someone is in a place where they consider themselves ready and have a heartfelt desire to receive, the answer should be, "Great! Let's baptise you." If they're not ready to do that, then are they really ready to receive communion...?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2022
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  7. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    I disagree with this initiative. Although we are all created in the image of God, not all have chosen to be His people, which is the rebirth that happens in Baptism. I for one prefer that our practice stays closer to tradition of the early Church.
     
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  8. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The current rule excommunicates children and youth from a Baptist background. The PCUSA has the same issue. I don’t think either of us actually enforces it. Most PCUSA churches I’ve been at say they welcome all believers.
     
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  9. Padres1969

    Padres1969 Episcopalian

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    No change as far as my parish. They’ve welcomed everyone to the table for as long as I’ve been attending.
     
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  10. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    The first time I went to Episcopal Mass and asked about receiving Holy Communion as a Catholic, I liked the answer: if you were baptized in any Christian denomination in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you're welcome to receive Communion. That seems to me a good balance.
     
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