Every year on the first Sunday in October, on October 3 this year, Christians around the globe celebrate World Communion Sunday. It is a day to remember that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and that every Christian Church and any denomination that promotes Christian unity are one. On this day, people draw faith and inspiration from seeing that they are part of a community that boasts millions of believers and worshippers.
History of World Communion Sunday
John A. Dalles, a pastor from the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA), researched the history of this day. The origin of this day is a brainwave that came to Dr. Hugh Thompson Kerr, pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. He came up with this idea in 1930 when he served as moderator of the General Assembly. Dr. Kerr’s younger son, Rev. Dr. Donald Kerr, himself pastor emeritus of the Roland Park Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, stated that World Communion Sunday arose from the celebration at the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. His father had attempted to bring churches together in service of Christian unity, and the idea grew from there.
Initially, this idea did not take hold. Whatever celebrations there were grew only incrementally, and people did not give this day a lot of thought. With the Second World War came an increased understanding of one’s own mortality, and the spirit of this day caught hold. This day symbolized the effort of bringing the world together, in a spiritual sense, thought Kerr. This celebration was adopted in the U.S., in the period during World War II, and soon, the organization, now known as the National Council of Churches, started endorsing and promoting the event to churches worldwide, led by their leader, Jesse Moren Bader.
Many celebrations revolve around the ‘Last Supper’ theme when Jesus Christ broke bread with his disciples right before he was betrayed by Judas. People even partake in the universal Christian practice of baking bread.
Today, this day is celebrated the world over, bringing together the unique flavor of all denominations with a strong individual spirit, just like the world we live in.
World Communion Sunday timeline
Accounts state that pastor Dr. Hugh Thompson Kerr, while serving as moderator of the General Assembly, conceives the notion of uniting all churches for a celebration.
The U.S. Presbyterian Church, along with other countries, first adopts the practice of annually celebrating World Communion Sunday from this day.
While countries have been asked to participate since the first celebration, it is only until the Department of Evangelism of the Federal Council of Churches (now called National Council of Churches) promotes World Communion Sunday, that celebrations extend around the globe.
The independent news publication for the PCUSA, Presbyterian Outlook, prints the history of World Communion Sunday; this is later reproduced by then-PCUSA pastor John A. Dalles, in his blog.
World Communion Sunday FAQs
What is World Communion Sunday 2020?
Several Christian denominations observe World Communion Sunday, which promotes Christian unity and observation of the Holy Communion.
Is Eucharist communion?
Yes, Eucharist is another name for the Holy Communion. It is also called Mass, the Lord’s Supper, or the Divine Liturgy.
What does communion mean in the Bible?
As per the Bible, communion is a Christian sacrament in which consecrated bread and wine are consumed as memorials of Christ’s death or as symbols for the realization of a spiritual union between Christ and communicant or as the body and blood of Christ.
How to Observe World Communion Sunday
Donate to a good cause
Celebrations for World Communication Day include a collection to fund scholarships. You can research donations to the United Methodist Churches around the world, or even send donations via mail, as per their website.
Listen to global music
These celebrations span the breadth of the world, so it is only natural that you include global music in your festivities too. Listen to religious music (or any other kind) from people all over the globe for a different experience.
Bread from all over the world features prominently in these celebrations. Try your hand at baking Nigerian flatbread, Irish soda bread, Japanese rice patties, and sourdough bread from San Francisco. You can also check out the Global Ministries website for different bread-baking recipes from around the world.
5 Fun Facts About World Communion Sunday
Christians are the world's largest religious group
They make up almost a third of the world's 7.3 billion people, according to a Pew Research Center demographic analysis.
Our day had another name initially
World Communion Sunday was initially named World Wide Communion Sunday.
This celebration is one of six
The United Methodist Church has five other Special Sunday celebrations.
It can be celebrated on a different day too
The Union Methodist Church says World Communion Sunday dates can be changed if any congregation has a time conflict.
Also time for peace
The Peace & Global Witness Offering is received during this time — called the Season of Peace; the offering actually ends on World Communion Sunday.
Why World Communion Sunday is Important
We're celebrating unity
This day teaches us that despite cultural, traditional, linguistic, and denominational differences, we all celebrate the power of unity and oneness.
A chance to savor Jesus's last meal
Bread, wine, and much more make it a meal to remember. The fact that we can do it with friends and family is the icing on the cake.
We are transcending boundaries
We get a mind-blowing exposure to traditions and celebrations from around the world. We move past boundaries, both geographical and denominational, to celebrate our day.
World Communion Sunday dates