What does the The Episcopal Church mean when it says it allows everyone to participate in Holy Communion? What is meant by "everyone"? Is it "all Christians", "all observant Christians", or "all human beings regardless of baptism"?

  • Can you give a reference for where they say this? It will be easier to answer if the claim is seen in context. – curiousdannii May 29 '14 at 23:00
  • Yeah. I don't think The Episcopal Church says this at all. More along the lines of "all baptized Christians" I should think. – Stephen Jun 26 '14 at 14:09

Canon 1, section 17 of the Canon law of the Episcopal Church states,

No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.

This restricts reception of Holy Communion to Christians only. Actual practices differ some between Episcopal parishes, with respect to further restrictions on who can receive. I know of parishes where the custom is to allow any baptized Christian to receive, and others which restrict reception to those delay Communion until a later time, for example, until after a course of instruction, which means that some baptized Christians might be excluded, for example those younger than a particular age. Every parishes at which I have attended communion make it public either by posting the information in a prominent place, or by means of an announcement just prior to the Communion part of the Service the particular custom of the parish as far as who can receive communion.

The canons, and the US Book of Common Prayer further restrict who can receive communion. According to the US Book Of Common Prayer, (P. 409) Baptized persons who are living a "notoriously evil life", "those who have done wrong to their neighbors and are a scandal to other members of the congregation", when "there is hatred between members of the congregation", and where there has been hatred, and one side is sincerely repentant, but "those on the other side refuse to forgive"are to be informed privately that they may not "come to the Holy Table until he (or she) has given clear proof of repentance and amendment of life",

In those parishes of which I have personal knowledge, the general custom is that a visitor is welcome to present himself or herself for Holy Communion if that person is eligible to present himself or herself for Holy Communion the parish he or she customarily attends.

Persons who are not eligible to receive Holy Communion, are in some parishes, still welcome to present themselves at the communion rail, in order to receive a Pastoral Blessing.

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  • well, i'm Mennonite and my wife is Episcopalian and with her, i have attended hundreds (maybe 1000) Episcopal services with the Lord's supper. never once did i hear any qualification espoused by the celebrant. i s'pose the celebrant assumed that all who desired Communion were believers and that is all that was implied. all believers were invited to the table. i never heard any qualification or consolation of a Pastoral Blessing. maybe i wasn't listening closely enough. – robert bristow-johnson May 28 '14 at 3:29
  • Robert if your wife belongs to a small parish, where most everyone knows everyone else, and strangers are rare and immediately recognized as such by the members, and the clergy, the Priest may feel that there is no need to voice the qualifications, but would do so if he saw a visitor he didn't know. As often as you've attended, I doubt you're a stranger, and as a Mennonite, you're baptized. I usually attend a large Parish, where the clergy don't necessarily recognize everyone attending, and I think the qualifications are not voiced, but printed in the service leaflet. – brasshat May 28 '14 at 5:00
  • (St. Andrews, Colchester VT) the Rector makes it unmistakably clear to, she goes out of her way to communicate that the Communion Table is open to anyone who identifies themselves as a follower of Christ. – robert bristow-johnson May 28 '14 at 17:05

The Episcopal Church is in a period of evolution and discussion on this.

The official rule is "any baptized Christian."

However, a number of individual parishes and dioceses practice "Open Table" - that is, allowing anyone - even the unbaptized - to partake in Communion.

As a general rule, Episcopalians are much less strict about following rules than (for example) Roman Catholics, for whom restrictions on who can receive Communion are a major point of tension and scrupulosity.

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I think it means if you think you're right with God, confessed your sins, received forgiveness and want to take Communion, do it.

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  • It's best if personal opinions can be backed up with supporting evidence. Can you give any links to where the Episcopal Church says this? – curiousdannii May 29 '14 at 21:23
  • According to Anglican doctrine, any baptized Christian, regardless of his or her denomination, is welcome to receive Communion in an Episcopal church. This practice is known as "open communion." You can check that out on any Episcopalian church website. – user11454 May 30 '14 at 17:10
  • I believe you, but if you're writing an answer here it's your responsibly to quote it for us. – curiousdannii May 30 '14 at 22:59

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