Sunday, October 19, 2008

Open Communion trend stirs hearts, a quiet controversy

Who is worthy to receive?
By Michael Paulson
October 19, 2008

Communion, the central ritual of most Christian worship services and long a members-only sacrament, is increasingly being opened to any willing participant, including the nonbaptized, the nonbeliever, and the non-Christian.

The change is most dramatic in the Episcopal Church, particularly in liberal dioceses like Massachusetts. The denomination's rules are clear: "No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church." Yet, a recent survey by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts found that nearly three-quarters of local parishes are practicing "open Communion," inviting anyone to partake.

"Who am I to say who should be at God's table?" said the Rev. Gale Davis Morris, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton. "Most of Scripture is pretty clear about who the ultimate judge is, and it's not anybody that's human. And I would much rather err on the side of inclusion than exclusion." the rest


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