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World Communion Sunday: A celebration of unity and service

On the first Sunday in October, United Methodist congregations joined many Christian churches across the globe in celebrating World Communion Sunday.

World Communion Sunday began as World-Wide Communion Sunday at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1933. The Rev. Hugh Thompson Kerr and his congregation sought to demonstrate the interconnectedness of Christian churches, regardless of denomination.

Rev. Kerr appropriately chose the sacrament of Holy Communion to symbolize this unity.

“The term Holy Communion invites us to focus…on the holiness of our communion with God and one another,” states This Holy Mystery, The United Methodist Church’s official statement on the sacrament.

In 1940, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, which included all of the predecessor denominations of The United Methodist Church, adopted World-Wide Communion Sunday. The global celebration occurs on the first Sunday in October.

In connection with the celebration of World-Wide Communion Sunday, the Methodist Church collected a special offering for the Fellowship of Suffering and Service. The Methodist Commission on Overseas Relief, the forerunner of today’s United Methodist Committee on Relief received half of the offering. The other half was divided between two agencies that ministered to military members: the Methodist Commission on Chaplains and the Methodist Commission on Camp Activity.

Today, The United Methodist Church celebrates World Communion Sunday with congregations all over the globe. Followers of Jesus Christ in large churches and small, on farms and in cities, in ornate buildings and under tents, gather to receive the bread and cup of Holy Communion.

Some will receive cubes of bread. Some will tear from a common loaf. Some will receive a wafer.

Some will drink from a common chalice. Some will dip a piece of bread into the cup. Some will have individual glasses.

Some will use wine; some juice. Some will offer both.

Pastors will lead a variety of liturgies, in many languages. Clergy will dress traditionally, formally, and casually.

Despite the differences in our denominations and traditions, we celebrate our unity in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

In The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday continues to be a special giving Sunday. The monies raised today help provide scholarships for racial and ethnic minority students in the US, and students worldwide.

Give generously to The United Methodist Church’s World Communion offering. Your gifts will assist those whom God has gifted to learn and to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.

Learn much more about the World Communion Sunday offering, and our other special giving Sundays at umcgiving.org.

Joe Iovino, UMC.org, United Methodist Communications, Nashville, TN.

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God’s children. The special offering provides World Communion Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.

When you give generously on World Communion Sunday, you equip gifted, qualified students from around the globe to become the world changers God created them to be. Give now.

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