COVID-19 ResponseGuidelines for Communion
Important Guidance and Direction from Bishop Mueller and the Appointive Cabinet Concerning Holy Communion
(as of March 20, 2020)
The sacrament of Holy Communion is a means of grace and an essential element of corporate worship. However, our current health crisis prevents the safe gathering of people for worship and the sharing of communion together. Thus, we need to adapt our celebration of communion in creative and appropriate ways for God’s people to continue to receive communion. We are aware that this is a departure from our United Methodist sacramental theology and, therefore, some of you may disagree with this decision for theological reasons. However, we are in unchartered waters and are making decisions while traversing an unknown landscape. The guidance and direction below may only be used while churches are not utilizing in-person worship services.
Communion Elements Provided by Churches – Elements Distributed to Congregants Following the Great Thanksgiving Offered by the Pastor
- The pastor offers the Great Thanksgiving over a sufficient quantity of pre-packed elements and takes communion him/herself. Just as churches often “extend the table” from a communion service by delivering consecrated elements to members who are unwillingly absent through sickness or for other reasons, these elements are then ready to be delivered to the entire congregation.
- Prepackaged elements can be purchased or assembled by churches using careful hygiene. One option is to use two communion cups for each person, one holding a small piece of bread, and another holding grape juice. Place the grape juice cup on top of the bread cup and wrap them in plastic film.
- The church makes these elements available for congregants to drive through and pick up outside the church.
- The pastor may invite congregants to pick up the elements along with a brief printed liturgy for them to use when they take them at home.
- Congregants are also invited to pick up and deliver the elements and liturgy to others who are not able to pick them up at church and maintain a social/physical distancing upon arrival and delivery.
Elements Provided by Worshippers – Elements Taken in Real Time During a Virtual Worship Service in Which Communion is Celebrated
- The church informs members in advance that communion will be celebrated during a particular upcoming virtual worship service and invites worshippers to prepare their own bread and grape juice at own home prior to the service.
- During live virtual worship offered on Facebook Live, Zoom, other social media platforms, local radio, a conference phone call or whatever live platform the church is using, the pastor offers the Great Thanksgiving, including the elements being used by the worshippers in their homes. Each person immediately takes the elements in real time wherever they are worshipping.
Reminder: Communion elements may only be consecrated by Ordained Elders, and by Licensed Local Pastors in their ministry context. Members of churches with lay supply pastors will receive communion through the method offered by the pastor assigned to their congregation for administering the sacraments, or through another authorized United Methodist pastor.