Baptism and Communion
  • Saturday, July 7, 2012

By Lauren Anderson

General Convention’s Evangelism Committee heard the cases for and against repealing a canon that specifies Holy Communion as intended for baptized Christians. Proponents supported Resolution C029 from the Diocese of North Carolina as a step toward radical hospitality in the Episcopal Church.

Speaking against the resolution, the Rev. Jim Sorvillo of the Diocese of Central Florida said baptism is not an optional ritual. Sorvillo added that the Eucharist should not be seen as a symbol of exclusion, but rather as a representation of “inclusion into God’s family.”

“I want people to have access, no doubt, but the table loses its power, its grace, if denied the powers of baptism,” Sorvillo said. “Let’s not throw out the baby with the baptism water.”

The Rev. Eleanor McLaughlin also opposed the resolution. “Yearning is not bad for us. Teens yearn for cars. … Lovers yearn for consummation,” McLaughlin said. “Anyone who yearns to be fed by God, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and desires to live after the manner of our crucified and risen Lord is welcomed by God and God’s altar. … And yet we do not have to change 2,000 years of tradition. This is a feast worth waiting for.”

Meghan Johnson of the Diocese of Minnesota supported the resolution, saying her parish in St. Paul has increased its membership and baptisms by offering Communion to the unbaptized.

“The table leads to the font and the font leads to the table, and both lead to Christ,” she said. “We don’t need the numerical order anymore.”

“I agree that with everything that’s been said this morning,” said Liza Anderson of the Diocese of Connecticut.

Anderson, who said she has not decided where she stands on the resolution, told a story of a new believer being denied Communion at a youth retreat, an experience that hurt the young woman’s faith.

“It was detrimental,” Anderson said. “I really feel that that denial of Communion affected where her life went after that weekend. … I hope the committee will think of her story as you make your decision.”

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