By Kirk Petersen
A controversial effort to support the widespread practice of offering communion without regard to whether a person is baptized has formally been laid to rest, succumbing to a shortened General Convention and strong opposition from theologians.
Resolution C028 would have eliminated Canon I.17.7 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, which reads in its entirety: “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.”
But Episcopal News Service reports that on June 27, the joint Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music committees voted in an online meeting to take no action, meaning C028 will not be considered by the 80th General Convention, which meets in Baltimore July 8-11.
TLC explained in a previous article why the resolution had little chance of success. C028 was filed before the decision was made to cut the length of the General Convention in half, resulting in sharply limited time for floor debate. The resolution was a near-perfect fit for some of the criteria established for winnowing the number of resolutions. These included asking if the resolution would require substantial floor debate; if it would benefit from further study; and if it could be postponed to 2024 “without significantly impeding the church’s ability to respond to God’s mission in the next two years.”
In early June, a diverse group of 22 academic theologians from across the ecclesial spectrum issued an open letter declaring that the sacrament of Holy Communion cannot legitimately be decoupled from the sacrament of Holy Baptism. “Unlike Baptism, Holy Eucharist is therefore not intended for ‘all people’ without exception, but
is rather for ‘God’s people’ understood above as a common body united by a common faith,” they wrote.
The letter touched off debates across the church, as reported in an extensive ENS article, which also traced the long history of efforts to eliminate the prohibition. TLC‘s Covenant weblog weighed in with two articles supporting the link between baptism and communion.