Knowing that many congregations today do not have an appointed pastor with the privileges to preside at the communion table — and knowing that these congregations long for the spiritual nurture of eucharist just as much as any other follower of Christ — the following liturgy has been adapted to allow pastors to consecrate elements for another lay-led congregation.
As an additional resource, members of the Cabinet will take turns leading a virtual worship service with communion on the first Sunday of most months in 2021. The services will take place at 8 a.m. via Zoom. The schedule appears above.
Any churches/faith communities that do not currently have someone appointed to preside at communion and who cannot make arrangements with a nearby church to extend their table as described above are encouraged to send someone to this service via phone or computer to both receive communion and have elements blessed for the regular worship service on that same day.
Please use the liturgy (link above) when sharing consecrated bread and juice with congregations without a presider.
To participate in future services, complete the online registration form and you will be sent the Zoom link/call in numbers. You only need to register once, and you will be sent a Zoom link that will work for the remainder of 2021.
In his book titled “Extending the Table: A Guide for a Ministry of Home Communion Serving,” Mark Stamm explains the traditional, historical, pastoral, and theological reasons why United Methodist clergy and laity can directly take consecrated communion elements to “unwillingly absent individuals” from a worshipping community; but cannot take communion to another congregation without an appointed pastor (Stamm 108).
The rule against extending Communion to entire congregations preserves the important link between the Communion liturgy and receiving Communion itself. … we have come to understand that we encounter Christ’s presence through the unfolding of the entire liturgy — gathering, praising God, hearing and responding to the Word, confessing sin and making peace, offering and giving thanks, receiving Communion, and going forth in mission (Stamm 108).
He argues that a homebound person is essentially part of the worshipping community, and members of their community are extending the table to them. When elements are consecrated and preserved for another congregation or a later occasion, there is “too great a separation between the action of the congregation and the reception of communion” (Stamm 124). This is called reserved sacrament. United Methodists extend the table, but do not reserve sacrament (Stamm 123-124).
Stamm, Mark. Extending the Table: A Guide for a Ministry of Home Communion Serving. Discipleship Resources, 2009.