If you’re new to the Episcopal Church, taking Communion can be confusing. Here are some common questions and their answers.
I’m not an Episcopalian. Can I take Communion?
All baptized Christians, regardless of denomination, are welcome to take Communion in the Episcopal Church. If for any reason, you don’t want to receive Communion, you are still invited to come forward, kneel, and cross your arms over your chest. The priest will say a prayer of blessing for you. If you have not been baptized, we would love to talk to you about getting baptized! Please contact the church office to find out about our baptism preparation class.
Can children take Communion?
If they are baptized, yes! Some parents, however, prefer to wait until their children are older. If you do not want your baptized children to receive Communion until a later age, please instruct them to cross their arms over their chest, and the priest will offer them a blessing. Periodically, we offer a Communion Preparation Class for children in the third grade (or older). Please contact the church office if you are interested.
How do I take Communion?
After the Priest invites the congregation to receive Communion (“The gifts of God for the people of God”), the lay ministers will receive Communion around the altar. After that, the acolytes will dismiss the congregation, row by row, to come forward and receive Communion. When you’re dismissed, please go to the altar rail, kneel (if you’re able—some people stand if kneeling is difficult for them), and put your hands out to receive the bread. The minister will put the bread in your hands. You then have two choices: Some people eat the bread immediately, then when the chalice (cup) of wine is presented, they drink from the cup. Others will hold on to their wafer of bread, then dip it in the wine when it is presented. This is called intinction. They then immediately consume the wafer and wine. After receiving Communion, please return to your pew along the side aisles.
What if my mobility is limited?
To get to the altar rail, you have to go up two steps. If stairs are difficult for you, please come to the standing Communion station in front of the baptismal font. It is located at the front left side of the church. Alternatively, let an usher know and we will happily bring Communion to you where you are seated.
Do you have gluten-free wafers?
Yes. We currently offer GF wafers and a GF-only chalice at the altar rail. As you’re kneeling, when the priest comes to you, simply tell him “Gluten free,” and he will provide you with a GF wafer and the GF-only chalice. Take the GF wafer and dip it in the cup to receive Communion.
What if I drop my wafer?
Don’t worry! This happens all the time. The priest or lay minister will pick it up. Since it has been consecrated, it will not be thrown in the trash. Rather, the priest or minister will consume it.
Do I have to drink the wine?
No. If you do not want to drink the wine, cross your arms over your chest after receiving the bread. This lets the minister know to not offer you wine. Alternatively, some members hold on to the bread and simply tap the wafer on the edge of the cup as a symbolic way of partaking of the wine.
What do Episcopalians believe happens in Communion?
In the Episcopal Church, the Holy Eucharist is also known as Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Eucharist comes from the Greek words meaning “good” and “gift.” It literally means “Thanksgiving.” The Holy Eucharist is the way Jesus himself has given us to remember and enter again into the events of Jesus’ atoning death and glorious resurrection—the greatest expression of God’s gracious love for us. In this meal, we are reminded that we are one Body, united to God and one another. As we eat and drink as one family, we dwell in Jesus, and he in us.
Episcopalians have a wide range of beliefs on what actually happens to the bread and wine. Traditionally, we do not adhere to what is called Transubstantiation (in which the bread and wine actually become the real body and blood of Christ). We do, however believe that Christ is present in a mysterious way as we eat the bread and drink the wine, remembering his death and resurrection for us. If you have questions about this, or any other matter of theology, please contact the Rector.