The Holy Eucharist, also known as Communion, is the sharing of the bread and wine in the gospel tradition that Jesus left for us in the last supper and was cemented as a central practice of our faith through the letters of Paul and the practices of the original followers of Jesus as they often secretly met in homes to share in the stories of Jesus and to break bread together.
In the Episcopal Church, the weekly practice of the Holy Communion as the primary expression of our worship is a fairly new understanding for the church as a whole, but has long been practiced as a defining element of our identity as Christians, making connection with the long-standing traditions of the church, ultimately connecting us back to Jesus Christ himself.
When we practice communion in the Episcopal Church, we believe that Christ is made truly present in the bread and wine that is being offered.
Following the words of the institution that Christ uttered, we take the bread as Jesus’ body, and the wine as his blood. These are not merely symbolic terms. For a true transformation occurs in this practice wherein Christ is known wholly and fully in the gifts of creation that we offer in the form of bread and wine.
All who feel called to come to the Lord’s table, are welcome to come and receive communion. Traditionally, the sacrament of Baptism (whether in the Episcopal church or any other Christian Church) has been seen as a necessary step in order to truly connect with the Eucharist in its fullest expression, and we still value that tradition, while also welcoming those who are not yet baptized to come and receive communion. If you are not yet baptized, you are welcome to receive communion AND we would love to talk with you about what it means to receive communion after being baptized and formally welcomed into the household of God.
When you come to the altar table or rail of an Episcopal Church, you will receive consecrated (that is, specially blessed by a Priest or Bishop) bread (either in the form of a communion wafer or a piece of unleavened bread prepared by a parishioner, with most churches also offering a gluten free option for those needing that) and wine that is offered from a common cup (or chalice as we call it). The common cup is an important piece of our offering of communion as it speaks to the reality that we are ALL called to come to the table in community with one another, to humble ourselves before God, to access God through the same means, the same vessel, as our neighbor, regardless of any differences we may possess, just like our welcome to the font of baptism where no boundary is known, whether infant, child, teen or adult; male, female, or non-binary; LGBTQIA+; or belonging to any race/ethnicity.
Receiving communion in one kind is seen as receiving communion in full, so if you feel the need to pass on the cup for whatever reason, know that you have still received the fullness of Eucharist.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Lord’s table, to share in the meal with us, to remember the promise of Jesus Christ and the connection we have to one another and God through this practice.