What do United Methodists want from Holy Communion?
The answer to that question, and to many others about the ritual and theology of Holy Communion, is found in “This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion,” approved May 7 as the denomination’s official, interpretive statement on the sacrament.
The document, the product of a 19-member task force of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, is also intended to help the church be in accord with ecumenical movements in sacramental theology and practice. The 16-page paper clarifies United Methodist Holy Communion tradition, theology and practice for local churches.
Delegates approved a resolution requesting the development of teaching resources that could be used with the document, and that churchwide agencies provide print and electronic resources for United Methodists on celebrating the Eucharist. The church also recommended “This Holy Mystery” as a resource for congregations to use with the communion services in the United Methodist Hymnal and the United Methodist Book of Worship.
The resource emphasizes that when people come to the table, they are not simply remembering something Jesus did 2,000 years ago, said the Rev. Gayle Felton, author of the document.
“When we come,” she said, “we encounter and experience something that is happening then and there. We are not exercising recall.”
*Green is a staff writer for United Methodist News Service
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