Ask the UMC: What does 'communion of saints' mean?

Every time Christians say the Apostles’ Creed, we profess belief in the communion of saints. The term “communion of saints” refers to the whole community of faithful followers of Christ, living and dead, past, present and future. 

Rev. Katie Shockley explains, "When we gather in worship, we praise God with believers we cannot see. When we celebrate Holy Communion, we feast with past, present and future disciples of Christ. We experience the communion of saints, the community of believers –– living and dead. This faith community stretches beyond space and time. We commune with Christians around the world, believers who came before us, and believers who will

come after us. We believe that the church is the communion of saints, and as a believer, you belong to the communion of saints.”

Orthodox Christians regularly use icons depicting the saints as physical reminders that all saints are truly present.

All Saints Day is a time when we remember Christians of every time and place, honoring those who lived faithfully, shared their faith and point us to the way of Christ through the witness of their lives. Shockley goes on, “The saints in our lives inspire us to live in holiness and righteousness.” On All Saints Day, many churches read the names of church members and loved ones who died in the past year.

Related: Ways to remember the lives and work of church saints

Have questions? Ask the UMC. And check out other recent Q&As.

This content was produced by InfoServ, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.

First published Oct. 30, 2017.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE
General Conference
Spare voting machines rest on a table at the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Ask The UMC: How are decisions made at General Conference?

General Conference is the highest legislative body in The United Methodist Church. It usually convenes once every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction.
Theology and Education
Clockwise from top left: Detail from Butyka Mausoleum by Globetrotter19, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; stained glass window by Kathleen Barry, UM News; Bible and cross by Mike DuBose, UMNS; detail of aanchor and two fish courtesy of Catacombe Domitilla; the Rev. George Miller by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Ask The UMC: Why do missionaries wear an anchor cross?

When missionaries are commissioned for service, an anchor cross is placed around their necks, as a symbol of their call to mission service.
Evangelism
World map, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Ask The UMC: Is The UMC in Canada, Australia, Latin America, Asia?

Get a history lesson about the Methodist presence in these parts of the world.