Virtual Communion: Yes or No?

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During the recent quarantine, each Bible Fellowship Church was faced with the decision of whether or not to observe communion virtually since worshiping together in person was not an option. OneVoice asked all our pastors to share what their church decided about the Lord’s Supper. Here are some of the responses:

OneVoice: Are you holding communion virtually during quarantine? Why or why not?

Scott Wright, Redeemer BFC in Lower Providence Twp, PA: Yes. The elders and I drove around to deliver the elements so we could also see them at a socially distant face to face. We gave them a sealed combo pack.

Aaron Smith, Northern Lehigh BFC, Walnutport, PA: Our plan was to order communion prepackaged cups and deliver them so that we could partake of them together on Easter during our live stream. Unfortunately, the place we ordered them from is shut down until May and our package won’t arrive until after that time. When we start our slow-launch in May, we plan on using the prepackaged kits going forward during our service. This seems like a cleaner option. People don’t normally see the preparation of the elements so we don’t want anyone to question the cleanliness if we did it the usual way.

Rick Harris, Denville BFC, Denville, NJ: We are doing communion virtually.  We feel it is a part of Church Life and quarantine or not, we will continue. We are providing advance announcements via text message, and by my regular video devotionals posted on our website. The Saturday before communion, I text message everyone that they should get their supplies ready for Communion Sunday. They can either get matzo and juice the day before. Or if they cannot get out to the store, they can use anything comparable in their home. 

Ralph Ritter, Wissinoming BFC, Philadelphia, PA: Although we are worshiping online for the duration, it’s in a small way so we have not observed communion virtually.

Dan Istrate, Missionary: No. I don’t think there is any warrant for anything like that, biblical or otherwise. The measures are temporary, and it is important to be able to gather together. We are humans, a psycho-somatic unity. The Lord put us together like that, so it matters that our bodies are there when we are together with others, especially around the table of the Lord. What reasons do we have left for us to meet in person, if everything is done online, in the virtual world? And we are not sacramentalists, like the Catholics or the Orthodox, to need this every thirty days to maintain our spiritual life.

Dennis Cahill, Christ Community Church, Piscataway, NJ: We did have it virtually on Good Friday, but we are not sure yet about doing it virtually going forward. Now there are more people watching online and we assume that many are not believers. On the other hand, we are still the people of God and still united even though we are not in the same place.

Carl Fischer, Grace BFC, Nazareth, PA: Yes, we are through Zoom. We recorded the Zoom and posted it online for those who could not figure out Zoom for the live stream. We edited out the beginning of the Zoom communion call before we posted it online, but it was precious. As people joined in, they greeted one another like they were in the church foyer. To prepare our people, we sent an email with instructions on preparations the week before. It’s interesting to note that in homes parents were able to teach their children about Communion much the same way as Jewish parents teach their children at a Passover Meal. One family said that their youngest celebrated his first Lord’s Supper because it was held in their home when he is usually in Junior Church.  Just about melted my heart with that one. They even sent me a picture because they did it up big by breaking out a gift given to them that they had never used before: a silver platter with several goblets.

Dan Williams, Trinity BFC, Blandon, PA: Our elders have decided against taking the Lord’s Supper virtually, as we believe that the instructions given by Paul make a strong statement about the essential unity of the body of Christ gathered at the table in remembrance of Jesus’ death (cf. 1 Cor. 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34).  The Communion meal is an act of the gathered family of Christ, the church.  To be sure, in the Lord’s Supper, our individual acceptance by the Father and peace through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus is pictured.  However, there is also a glorious horizontal message in the meal.  Paul says, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 16:16-17).  The Supper is a spiritual meal, but it is also a physical meal.  Our collective peace and place with Christ and his body is mysteriously but marvelously proclaimed through the Lord’s Supper.  We have concluded that it is better to “wait for one another” (1 Cor. 17:33).  We have encouraged our congregation to allow this temporary period without the Lord’s Supper to create a greater hunger for personal and corporate fellowship with God and His people.  Having said this, we look with love and grace upon other believers and local churches that may take a different view.

Joel Klase, Bethany BFC, Hatfield, PA: We decided so far not to have communion virtually because we felt it took away from the symbolism of our unity as a body if we were not partaking together in the same place and time. Since we prerecord our services (as opposed to live-streaming), we can’t even say that everyone would be partaking at the same time. We have not made a decision yet about our future services.

James MacArthur, New Life BFC, Oley, PA: We are not celebrating communion during this time of virtual services, mainly because the logistics of people getting things pulled together and how it might be a little disorderly.  We will likely wait until we are all together again. 

Scott Kappes, Pocono Mountain BFC, Mt. Pocono, PA : We have not held communion virtually so far. We are still adapting to these new realities. We are considering it for the future.

Kevin Kirkpatrick, Terre Hill BFC, Terre Hill, PA: We had communion on Good Friday.  I wasn’t sure if I would, originally, but after talking with some local pastors, I decided to try it on Good Friday. In an effort to give my folks a sense of normalcy, we took communion virtually during the taped service.

Dennis Spinney,Valley BFC, Lagrangeville, NY : At present, we have a Zoom meeting on Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night in order to meet together as a church. We observe the Table each Sunday night and remind our people beforehand to be prepared.

Wayne Rissmiller, Calvary BFC, Sinking Spring, PA: Yes, we have, because it provides a reminder of what Jesus did for us, a reminder that we are unified with Jesus and one another as the Body of Christ, and it is a tangible, engaging act of worship. It also provides a level of continuity and stability in a time of discontinuity and uncertainty.

We are so grateful to all of our Bible Fellowship Churches and how they have sought the Lord for direction in this matter. How beautiful it is to be unified with one another while we listen and learn from one another and allow each congregation to freedom to follow the Lord on this matter.

What did your church decide about communion during quarantine? How did your experience of communion during quarantine impact your faith? Let us know in the comments below.

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