Lord's Supper

Lord's Supper

Position

Along with baptism, the Lord’s Supper (holy communion) is a sacrament in the CRC. Believers in Christ who have professed their faith are welcome to receive the nourishment and refreshment of the bread and cup of the Lord “as sure signs” in remembrance of Christ’s body and blood poured out for us in his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 75-82).

Synod 1995 adopted a report regarding children at the Lord’s Supper (see www.crcna.org/SynodResources). Synod also appointed a study committee on faith formation in 2007 to report findings and make recommendations on Lord's Supper participation and public profession of faith at subsequent synods.

Synod 2006 adopted a report by the CRC Interchurch Relations Committee on the Lord’s Supper and the Roman Catholic Mass (see www.crcna.org/SynodResources), stating that the closing three paragraphs of Q. and A. 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism “do not accurately reflect the official teaching and practice of today’s Roman Catholic Church and are no longer confessionally binding on members of the CRC.”

History

Admission to the Lord's Supper has been discussed often in the CRC. The CRC maintains that a person be a "confessing member" of a Christian church in order to partake of the Lord's Supper. Especially with regard to children at the Lord's table, committees have reported to Synods 1986, 1988, and 1995. Synod 1995 revised Article 59 of the CRC Church Order to reflect a difference between "confessing members" who are children and "confessing members who have reached the age of 18 and who have made a commitment to the creeds of the Christian Reformed Church" (Acts of Synod 1995, p. 762). Prior to that time, the Church Order presumed that baptized members who made public profession of faith were also old enough to understand and commit to the teachings of the church's creeds and confessions.

The matter of children at the Lord's Supper came to synod again by way of an overture in 2006, and synod proposed changes to the Church Order that would allow "admission of all baptized members to the Lord's Supper on the basis of their full membership in the covenant community" (Acts of Synod 2006, p. 730); Synod 2007, however, did not adopt those proposed changes. Synod 2006 also called for a task force to be appointed to, among other things, evaluate the impact, implementation, challenges, and joys of the 1995 decision and propose ways in which professing and communicant children can be discipled toward greater spiritual growth. In 2007 that task force presented its work, and synod established a Faith Formation Committee to study various aspects of participation in the Lord’s Supper and public profession of faith, by means of discussion with and information gathering from Christian Reformed congregations and agencies involved in faith formation, and to report annually to synod for the subsequent five years. Synod 2011 adopted the Faith Formation Committee’s report “Children at the Table” as fulfillment of the committee’s mandate to formulate “a clear statement about the participation of baptized children at the Lord’s Supper and the practice of public profession of faith for use in the churches” (Acts of Synod 2011, p. 831). Synods 2011 and 2012 also adopted related changes to the Church Order and its Supplements (Acts of Synod 2011, pp. 829-30; Acts of Synod 2012, pp. 771-72). Synod 2013 received and approved recommendations from its Faith Formation Committee to make use of “A Primer for Welcoming Children to the Lord’s Supper and the Role of Public Profession of Faith” and to use related new products developed by Faith Alive Christian Resources in 2013 for welcoming and preparing children to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

In 2006 synod also adopted a report on The Lord’s Supper and the Roman Catholic Mass and declared the latter three paragraphs of Q. and A. 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism to be "no longer confessionally binding" (see www.crcna.org/SynodResources). In response to recommendations by the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee, based on dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church and other Reformed denominations, Synod 2011 received “This Bread of Life” as an ecumenical document on the Lord’s Supper, recommending it “to the churches for further study and reflection” (Acts of Synod 2011, p. 822).

References

Agenda for Synod 1986, pp. 346-70, 478
Acts of Synod 1986, pp. 617-20
Agenda for Synod 1988, pp. 260-316
Acts of Synod 1988, pp. 557-560
Agenda for Synod 1995, pp. 265-303
Acts of Synod 1995, pp. 712-21, 762-63
Agenda for Synod 2006, pp. 270-71, 274-76, 526-30
Acts of Synod 2006, pp. 666-70, 710-11, 713-14, 727-31
Agenda for Synod 2007, pp. 26, 43-63
Acts of Synod 2007, pp. 621, 653-57, 659
Agenda for Synod 2008, pp. 231-42
Acts of Synod 2008, pp. 454, 473, 517, 529
Agenda for Synod 2011, pp. 344-46, 440-510, 571-612
Acts of Synod 2011, pp. 822, 829-31
Agenda for Synod 2012, pp. 420-23
Acts of Synod 2012, pp. 771-72
Agenda for Synod 2013, pp. 318-23, 327, 329-31
Acts of Synod 2013, p. 552