by Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis & Bryce E. Rich
It’s been a year since the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith began its work. Once again we’d like to invite the wider MCC community to continue our conversation. To that end, we will be sharing some of our preliminary thoughts on various topics we’ve been discussing amongst ourselves, including, the Open Table, our thoughts about Jesus, MCC’s unique mission within the Church, and our role as stewards of God’s creation.
This month we are discussing MCC’s practice of an open invitation to the table in worship. This has been our practice since 6 October 1968, when Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry held MCC’s first worship service in his home. In response to his invitation in The Advocate, 12 people from a variety of religious backgrounds gathered that day. Though the celebration of Holy Communion was not an integral part of Troy’s Pentecostal background, by the movement of the Spirit, he offered the bread and cup to all who were present. MCC gatherings around the world have continued this practice of an open invitation ever since.
Traditional statements of belief often begin with lofty statements about God or our task as worshipers. But when we think about our very first experiences in MCC, what comes to mind is the Open Table.
We believe that God invites everyone to taste and see. And we have seen the healing that takes place as people take part in the Lord’s Supper.
Rev. Elder Ken Martin consecrates communion at General Conference XXV in July 2013. (photo by L. Brenner-Beckstead)
Because we come from so many religious backgrounds, including Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Free Church, and many, many others, we are aware that people have varying beliefs about the Eucharist. These include memorialism, transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and real presence. However, in the midst of our differences, the Open Table has been the center of MCC worship from our very beginning.
Many of us know the pain of being turned away from the communion in other denominations. With this in mind, our founders decided to offer communion at every worship service. Countless individuals have reconnected with God’s love through the invitation we extend to all people. People come alone, with their partners, and even in groups of friends.
At King of Peace MCC, we use the following reading once a month as a part of our communion service. We invite you to take a moment to read and reflect:
Come to this table
to meet the living God,
love indescribable and beyond our imagining
yet closer than our own breathing.
Come to this table
to meet the risen Christ
flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
God-with-us, embodied in our living.
Come to this table
to meet the life-giving Spirit,
interpreting our search for truth and justice,
breathing into us renewing power.
Come to find, to meet, to hold
the living, loving God
made new for us in bread and wine.
— Jan Berry in Bread for Tomorrow: Praying with the World’s Poor, ed. Janet Morley (London: SPCK/Christian Aid, 1992), pp. 93-94.
Some Questions to Consider
We’d like to hear about your experiences. Join the conversation on our Facebook page or send your private reply to us through the MCC website. See links below.
This month, we’re particularly interested in the following questions:
- Is open table practice an important part of your worship experience?
- Do you remember how you felt when you first were invited to communion at an MCC?
- What words, phrases, or images come to mind as you think about your experiences of the Open Table?
You may also share your thoughts about the MCC Statement of Faith.
We want to hear from you!
Thank you for being a part of the conversation. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.
Your Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith
Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis is the Chair of the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith and Senior Pastor at King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg, Florida (USA).
Bryce E. Rich is a member of the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith and the Chair of the MCC Theologies Team.
Subscribe to the Commission’s newsletter by sending us a request: Statement of Faith Newsletter