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What do Protestants who deny transubstantiation do with the remainders of wine and bread after the Eucharist?

For example, in Eastern Orthodox Church, after the liturgy the priest must consume (I mean eat) all remainders of the Body and the Blood of Christ. And is not permitted to leave even some the smallest parts of consecrated bread and wine, or lose some of them or to let fall on the floor some of them.

As I understand, many Protestants do not believe that the wine is real blood and the bread is the real Body of Christ. So, how do Protestant pastors treat such remainders?

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False premise in post: many Protestants view communion as getting real blood. –  pterandon Jun 21 '13 at 23:13
This is too broad. There is no single answer. When I was a young teen, my church used "regular" bread. After service, all the youth would rush up to the front to grab the bread, and have a snack. More recently, a church I attended uses wafers, which are easily stored and saved for the next occasion. –  Flimzy Sep 5 '14 at 15:05
Chuck it. Or eat it. –  LCIII Sep 5 '14 at 16:18

5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

You are correct that most Protestants do not see the bread and wine as anything more than symbols. There is no blessing that is ever attempted to transform the elements into the literal body and blood of Christ. Consequently, the bread and wine (or juice) that could be stored for long periods of time prior to the observance of the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) can be stored for long periods of time afterwards. Additionally, if the bread or wine goes bad or if there is anything left over after an observance, they can be just thrown away.

So, some would ask if the disposing of these elements irreverent. To answer that, it should be understood that the elements only serve as symbols during the observance of the Eucharist/Last Supper. Before and after, there are just regular, ordinary, "garden variety" bread and wine.

It should be noted, though, that there are some Protestant denominations that do revere the bread and wine in high regard. Some may even subscribe to transubstantiation. For those denominations, the practice would likely be similar to that of Catholics and Orthodox.

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In the Baptist church where I would serve, the previous tradition had been to give the remainders to the birds. Personally, I made it a point to eat the remainders myself upon taking over, but that had been our tradition. –  Affable Geek Jun 21 '13 at 14:31
Isn't this fact (... can be just thrown away...) some kind of negligence according to these symbols or not? How they could explain this? –  Andremoniy Jun 21 '13 at 14:40
@Andremoniy See update. –  Narnian Jun 21 '13 at 15:08
@AffableGeek I was attending a small Baptist Church that would only celebrate about once a month. The pastor would get this really delicious sweet roll kind of loaf and about half would be left almost every time. Guess who made sure that sweet roll was on his lunch plate? The point is, I don't think Baptists care what happens to any extras. –  fredsbend Jun 21 '13 at 21:53

Episcopalians: The ushers count the congregation and count the wafers to match. If they miscounted the Priest in charge reserves the wafers in a "tabernacle" on the altar. They drink all of the wine/water. If a wafer is dropped it is retrieved quickly and consumed by the Priest. Whether or not individuals believe the wafer is the actual body of Christ is between him and God. Episcopalians are not required to believe in the transubstantiation as are Roman Catholics, though many do.

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Very interesting! Thanks. –  Andremoniy Jun 21 '13 at 14:38

"Protestantism" is extremely diverse, and there is pretty much no single way that Protestants do anything. This is especially true of the Eucharist.

Some Protestants do believe that the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus is real. Others believe in treating the communion elements with special reverence even if the transformation is symbolic or spiritual. The Anglican church, for example, also expects that leftover elements are consumed after the service - usually by the Priest.

For those that don't follow this practice, the elements can be disposed of in any way that is convenient. They can be eaten, thrown out, or kept for next week. Many Protestants also don't use actual wine for the communion, but grape juice instead.

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Some Lutheran churches have an extra drain in the kitchen (sacristy) sink for disposal of extra, unused communion wine. This extra drain dumps directly to the soil underneath. The idea is that it is more respectful to dump on soil than to mix with sewage.

Page 13 of this FAQ from the LC-MS Lutherans explains their policy on disposal of the communion elements, including "returning to earth".

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As a United Methodist Clergy, I have two habits:

  1. I invite the children and youth to join me around the table to consume the elements (bread and juice) following worship.
  2. I offer this prayer for the remaining elements:

Thank you God for the gift of these elements which have served to remind us of your Son's sacrifice and great capacity to love us. As these elements have come from the earth, we now return them to the earth with thanksgiving. Amen.

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Welcome to the site. Is this common among United Methodist's? Does this reverence extend to other clergy? Is this related to a recommended protocol? –  fredsbend Sep 5 '14 at 16:06
As a Baptist minister, I would do something very similiar. I also had a parishoner who would use bread to feed the birds, but say a prayer as she did. –  Affable Geek Sep 5 '14 at 16:46

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