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Most Presbyterians prefer monthly Lord’s Supper celebrations

June 8, 2011

LOUISVILLE

Most Presbyterians worship in congregations that celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a month, and most like that frequency.  One-third of ministers, however, would prefer weekly Lord’s Supper celebrations.

These are findings from the February 2009 Presbyterian Panel survey on sacraments.

Three-quarters of members, elders, pastors and non-pastoral ministers are part of a congregation that celebrates the Lord’s Supper once a month. Seven in 10 ministers and three in five members and elders prefer monthly celebrations.  On the other hand, one-third of ministers, but only about one in 10 members and elders, would like their congregation to celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly.

“Although some ministers would like to celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week, most Presbyterians are fine with doing so monthly,” said Perry Chang, Presbyterian Panel administrator.

In addition to preferring monthly Lord’s Supper celebrations, many Presbyterians believe that both adults and children who have not been baptized should be able to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

Three in five members, elders, pastors, and non-pastoral ministers believe that adults who have not been baptized should “definitely” or “probably” be permitted to participate in Lord’s Supper celebrations. Half of members, 55 percent of elders, and three in five pastors and non-pastoral ministers believe that children who have not been baptized should “definitely” or “probably” be permitted to participate in Lord’s Supper celebrations.

About one-third of members, elders, pastors, and non-pastoral ministers oppose permitting participation by children who have not been baptized. The rest are “not sure.” One-quarter of members and elders and about one-third of pastors and non-pastoral ministers oppose permitting participation by adults who have not been baptized. The rest are “not sure.”

“Although Presbyterians are somewhat divided on whether worshipers who haven’t been baptized should be able to participate in the Lord’s Supper, more say ‘Yes’ than say “No’ to this,”  Chang said.

The Presbyterian Panel is made up of randomly chosen Presbyterian church members, elders and ministers who respond to questions on different topics four times a year. The Panel assembles a representative sample every three years and provides a way for church leaders to learn the opinions of rank-and-file Presbyterians.

  1. What Christian churches need is a turn away from worldly influences for ease and comfort, and a turn to following Jesus' guidance from scripture, when He clearly indicates that 'as often as you come together to worship, do this (share the bread and the cup) in memory of Me. '

    by joe schuessler

    February 6, 2013

  2. I am in a mostly protestant retirement community but have only had communion offered to me once sinse I arrived in Jan,2010...I don't have a car to get to a local church so miss my once a month communion in the Lewiston Presbyterian Church which I still support financially....

    by Mary Jane Luscher

    June 15, 2011

  3. I find it interesting that no one has mentioned John Calvin's love of weekly celebration of this life-giving sacrament. If people truly want to be fed as Christians, we must move away from the belief that God only desires one hour of our praise, worship, and devotion once a week. The table should be open to all who desire to partake of the sacrament in a humble, respectful way. Many have come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ as they were welcomed to the table. In my discussions with families before their children are baptized, I frequently find that even very small children have a clearer understanding of what is happening through the sacrament of holy communion than many longtime adult members of our churches. WWJD? Jesus would move beyond all the institutional rules of the religious teachers and welcome one and all to the table!

    by Rev. Dr. Carolyn Weber

    June 11, 2011

  4. On the contrary, I think there ought to be *more* emphasis on proclaiming the Word: getting directly to the heart of the matter of how God is speaking to us through Scripture and how we are called to respond and live (and less time and energy on anecdotes and illustrations that don't point to the gospel). As for a shift from teaching to priestly ministry, I hope our celebrations of the Lord's Supper have more to do with the prayer and thanksgiving of the whole people of God (as the priesthood of all believers) around the Lord's table than the actions of the presider ... but I realize that's not always the case, unfortunately. Thanks for this good comment, Linda!

    by David Gambrell

    June 10, 2011

  5. I wonder if this emphasis on the celebrating of the Lord's Supper every week involves a de-emphasis on the preaching of the Word. This way there is an excuse to preach homilies rather than sermons requiring less time and energy. Also this reflects a move from a teaching role to a priestly role--interesting!!!

    by Linda Brebner

    June 10, 2011

  6. Concerning the frequency of celebrating the Lord's Supper: another way to think about these findings is to consider how far we've come. It wasn't all that long ago that quarterly celebrations of the Lord's Supper were the norm in most congregations. Monthly celebrations have gone up from 61% to 75% (according to pastors) just since 2000; in that time, weekly celebrations have increased from 7% to 9%.

    by David Gambrell

    June 8, 2011

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