In 2006, Synod adopted a motion to a proposed change in the church order which would have welcomed all baptized members to the Lord’s Supper without requiring profession of faith. In the spring of 2007, our elders made a decision to open the table to all baptized members at Georgetown. When Synod met that June, however, it did not ratify the decision of the previous year. In response, our elders tabled the issue until Synod reached a final decision.
Synod appointed a Faith Formation Committee to examine the issue further. Four years later, it presented a report recommending that Synod encourage churches to open the table to all baptized members. Synod approved this report in 2011 and is encouraging churches to move in this direction.
Articles/Readings (view/download as PDF):
- Children at the Lord's Supper and Reformed Theology
- United, Separated, Re-united: The Story of Baptism and the Lord's Supper
- Children at the Lord's Supper and the Key Text of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
- Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 25
Our Wednesday evening speaker series featured Dr. David Rylaarsdam (professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Seminary) speaking for three consecutive weeks on children and the sacrament of communion. Recorded copies are available at the Welcome Center or from a member of the technology team.
Frequently Asked Questions (click to open answers)
[toggle type="white" title="When Will This Change Go Into Effect?"]
Children and other baptized persons who love the Lord will be welcome to participate in the sacrament of Communion beginning with our celebration of the Lord’s Supper on May 4. In anticipation of this change, we will do our very best to provide helpful information and engage in conversations with various groups within the congregation.[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="Why Are We Making This Change?"]
The sacrament is first and foremost a means of grace to encourage us in our walk with God and to nurture us in our faith. Our desire is to enable all of God’s people, including the youngest in our congregation, to be nurtured in their love for Jesus and their faith in him. Allowing all baptized persons who love the Lord to participate honors the continuity between the two testaments of Scripture. Just as baptism is the New Testament expression of circumcision, the Lord’s Supper is the New Testament fulfillment of the Passover celebration.
And just as children participated fully in the celebration of God’s grace in the Passover, children will have a way now to participate fully in the celebration of God’s grace through the Lord’s Supper. In the early church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper were inseparable. Baptized children participated regularly in the Lord’s Supper.
We see a natural progression from Baptism to participation in the Lord’s Supper to Profession of Faith. Having rooted our identity as a child of God in baptism and having been nurtured in our faith through the Lord’s Supper, in gratitude we publically profess our faith in Christ, the author of our salvation.[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="But What About I Corinthians 11:17-34?"]
An understanding of this passage that takes into account the historical, cultural, and textual context is important. The situation that Paul is addressing is one of disunity and prejudice in the body of Christ. When Paul exhorts the Corinthians to “recognize the body” and “to examine themselves,” he is calling them to celebrate the sacrament in a manner that welcomes all regardless of economic status or power and does not humiliate other congregational members.[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="Does This Change Fit With The Teachings Of The Reformed Confessions?"]
The Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 81 and 82 and Belgic Confession Art. 35 most directly relate to this issue. At first glance they may appear to prohibit children, but a more careful study shows that these statements were not concerned with children’s participation, but about ungodly and unrepentant adults who were mature enough to believe but refused to do so. Actually, the confessions teach that both of the sacraments are a sign and seal of the promises of God to the whole covenant community (H.C. Q/A 74, 61).[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="What Is The Role Of Profession Of Faith If It Is No Longer The Pathway To The Lord’s Supper?"]
Profession of Faith will continue to be a person’s public statement of faith in God and commitment to the church. It will continue to be a major milestone in the journey of faith. Our Going Public program will remain solidly in place. Middle school is a natural time for students to profess their faith, and they will continue to be encouraged and given opportunity to do so.
We believe a child’s full participation in the Lord’s Supper will serve to strengthen the spiritual lives of our young people and help to lead them to a profession of faith in Jesus whose body and blood were given for the forgiveness of their sins. While the majority of our children make their profession of faith in middle school, some do not. They will continue to be encouraged to profess their faith.
That said, the primary purpose of Profession of Faith is not to gain entrance to the table. It is intended to provide an opportunity to publically declare one’s love for the Lord and desire to serve Him in response to God’s work in our lives. In other words, Profession of Faith is about my response to God’s work in my life rather than what I gain from God.[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="Who Determines When A Child Is Ready To Participate In The Lord’s Supper?"]
Readiness for participation in Communion is best decided between parents and their children. When a child expresses a sincere love for Jesus and an age appropriate understanding of the bread and the cup, that child may be ready to come to the table.[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="What About Baptized Members Who Are Older?"]
Our pastors will continue to issue an invitation to come to the table with these words: “All those who recognize their need for a Savior, who place their faith in Jesus Christ as the One who provides salvation, and who sincerely desire to serve Him in gratefulness, are invited to come to the table.”[/toggle]
[toggle type="white" title="How Will We Proceed To Implement This Change?"]
1. In the next few weeks, our pastors will present messages on the sacrament of Communion to help us better understand this sacrament and its observance.
2. Dr. David Rylaarsdam, of Calvin Seminary, will be present on Wednesday evenings, February 5, 12, 19, helping us understand the biblical issues, the history and theology surrounding the observance of Communion, and a variety of practical matters.
3. A summary of the Synodical report Children at the Table and other related materials will be made available at the Welcome Center and Georgetown’s web site.
4. A meeting for members of the congregation who wish to learn more about the elder’s decision to open the table to all baptized members will be held on February 23 after the morning service.
5. A meeting for parents to provide suggestions and answer questions will be held on March 23 after the morning service. Resources will be provided for parents to help them engage in meaningful conversation with their family about the Lord’s Supper.
6. On March 30, Sunday morning discipleship classes for children and students though high school will be devoted to the sacraments. We will continue to do this in subsequent years.
7. A special communion service will be held on Sunday morning, May 4 marking the first time that all baptized persons who love the Lord will be welcomed at the table.[/toggle]