Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Great Communion

This past Sunday there occurred in Albuquerque a historic event. Oh, not quite as historic as putting people on the moon, or even overhauling the medical system in the most prosperous country on the planet, but historic in a minor sort of way. At three o'clock in the afternoon, and in loose cooperation with multiple other venues around the world, there was assembled members of three of the denominations originating in the American Restoration Movement. This is not the first time various members have "crossed the aisle" to worship with others, but it was the first worldwide intentional such undertaking.
At the Montgomery Church of Christ, members and clergy of the Disciples of Christ, Independent Christian Churches, and Churches of Christ assembled for the express purpose of sharing communion with one another. The auditorium was comfortably full (estimates range from low-500s to about 600 attendees) when the service began with a review of Restoration Movement history by the event coordinator and an invocation by one of Montgomery's members. From there, the communion service unfolded with a mixed vocal choir, a Christian Church bell choir, and various clergy (male and female) from area churches. Congregational a capella singing was appreciated by all in attendance with one Disciples pastor opining that "you sing much better than Disciples!"
The communion itself came amidst a series of textual readings, and included multiple communion stations around the auditorium. At those stations, each with two servers, the congregation received communion from members of other traditions. There were more than a few tearful eyes during the service.
Comments during, following, and since have all been positive. More than one person was heard to say "I never thought I'd see this in my lifetime," and "we need to do this again - every year." Others expressed hopes of further joint efforts such as Christmas and Easter services. Perhaps the best indicator of the spirit of the day was that many people remained after the service for an hour or more to talk while enjoying cookies and other refreshments.
The afternoon was a wonderful chance to meet with other Christians with whom we seldom have "official" exchanges, but with whom we share a common religious heritage. While I'm not one to wait until someone official tells me I can fellowship others (I don't have a problem meeting with just about any Christian denomination), I do hope that this event results in broader acceptance of others with whom we doctrinally disagree over secondary questions.

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