It’s time for the United Methodist Church to end its observance of World Communion Sunday. Our understanding of communion and catholic communion liturgy ought to make it clear that every Sunday is world communion Sunday. By its very nature, every communion service is a celebration of the world wide unity of the church in Jesus Christ. (And, by the way, we ought to be offering our people Christ in accordance with his promise every Sunday. To withhold communion is to withhold Jesus!)
World Communion Sunday is observed in a handful of denominations on the first Sunday in October. It was the 1940 creation of the U.S. Federal Council of Churches, predecessor to the increasingly irrelevant National Council of Churches. I think it is amusing that a group of American mainline Protestant denominations in the mid-20th century thought that they were inventing something new when they proposed the observance, and even more amusing that they thought their bureaucratic ecumenism could set the agenda for the whole church.
With the liturgical renewal of the late 20th century, the church adopted a worship calendar built on the biblical story, not one built on a series of special observance Sundays. World Communion Sunday is not part of the catholic tradition. Rather, it is an unfortunate remnant of pre-renewal American mainline Protestantism: isolated from the church catholic with a belief in its own ascendancy.
The observance of World Communion Sunday has become one of the UMC’s mandatory fund-raising opportunities. and I’m sure that those in power would hate to give up an important source of income. However, it’s time for it to go.