March 17, 2005
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Tenn. (UMNS)—Holy Communion should be seen as a "kingdom scene" in
anticipation of what is to be, said the Rev. Daniel T. Benedict Jr., in a
presentation to the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.
Communion is not a funeral service; it is a time to remember all that
Jesus did for us," said Benedict, a board staff executive. "It is body
and blood, not milk and cookies. Diners beware!"
you partake of Holy Communion it should be done with an awareness of
what you are going to do with the rest of your life, he said.
presented a theological inquiry on Holy Communion and baptism for the
agency board of directors’ spring meeting, held March 9-12 in Nashville.
2004 General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body,
approved a study on Holy Communion conducted by the Board of
Discipleship as the church’s official, interpretive statement on the
study, "This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy
Communion," was produced by a 19-member task force of the Board of
Discipleship. The 16-page paper clarifies United Methodist Holy
Communion tradition, theology and practice for local churches. It is
also intended to help the church be in accord with ecumenical movements
in sacramental theology and practice.
A conference on "This
Holy Mystery" will be held April 26-28 in Nashville for bishops,
district superintendents, connectional ministries directors, conference
and district worship directors, seminary professors, pastors, deacons
and seminary students.
|A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert
Holy Communion should be celebrated weekly, says the Rev. Daniel T. Benedict Jr.
Benedict said the task force members all agreed that Holy Communion should be celebrated weekly.
should become "ordinary, not extraordinary," he said. The Lord’s Supper
should form the church into a community that reaches out, he added.
"If you are meeting Christ each week, of course you will reach out."
said baptism means "all the narrow places, the boundaries, all the
things that make us distinctive evaporate, and we all become world
"We will spend a lifetime working it out."
board meeting will have someone do theological instruction on the work
of disciple making," said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive for
the board. "Baptism is the basis from which our ministry springs; we are
baptized and then we start a lifelong journey of growth in faith. Holy
Communion is the meal that reminds us of the great love of God."
"We want to be grounded in those two sacraments," she said.
an opening address to the members, Greenwaldt said the board helps
leaders in all areas of the church look "holistically at the health and
vitality of local churches and annual conferences."
every quadrennium, the board evaluates and approves affiliated
organizations—independent religious organizations that have an official
relationship with the United Methodist Church. The Discipleship
Ministries division approved 16 organizations at the spring meeting.
board also approved holding a Global Young People’s Convocation in late
May 2007 in a central conference. Sponsored by the Division on
Ministries with Young People, the convocation will be for United
Methodists ages 12 to 30 and adult workers with youth and young adults.
The event will celebrate the mission and vitality of young people,
develop young people as leaders, highlight emerging trends in youth and
young adult ministry, and provide a forum that embraces the church’s
said a highlight of the board’s March meeting was the "spirit of the
board, their excitement about the mission of the church."
meeting ended with a Holy Communion service in which participants were
told, "Live the cross, make disciples (and) be attentive to the poor,
the sick and the oppressed."
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.