This Sunday, Christians around the world will be sharing communion together. It is World Communion Sunday, observed each year on the first Sunday of October. Many denominations participate in communion much less frequently than we do. For us, as Disciples congregations who partake of communion each week, a day designated solely for this purpose seems a little “off.” But, this year especially, I think it is important for us to know about the beginning of this tradition and its driving purpose. Why is it important?
World Communion Sunday was begun in 1934 by Hugh Thomson Kerr, a minister at Shadyside Presbyterian Church Pittsburgh, PA. The idea of a day like this was to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity, where people could be reminded of how we are all interconnected; that we are all children of God. The larger Presbyterian Church adopted this idea in 1936, and since then, it has spread to Christian churches around the world.
Each morning, as I wake up and read the news from overnight, all I seem to read about is division, anger, and people flinging furious words. It seems that we are constantly at odds with each other, with other countries, even within our own families. World Communion Sunday offers us a day to step away from the conflict and recognize the one thing that unifies us all – Jesus Christ. So, as we gather for worship on Sunday, we can know that people in Puerto Rico, who have been devastated by a hurricane, people in Mexico, who are suffering from the aftereffects of an earthquake, people in North Korea, who continue to live their faith in persecution, people from South Sudan, who are fleeing violence, and so many more, are all pausing to observe communion on the same day. May we hold Christians around the world in prayer on this day and every day.