One of the major trends in the Protestant church today is the increasing ecumenical nature of our individual churches. You’re just as likely to find someone next to you who grew up Methodist as you are someone who was raised in the Episcopal Church or as a Presbyterian. People are looking for churches where they feel welcomed, where they connect with the members of the community, the preaching, and the music, and churches where they can get involved. Denominations increasingly matter less than a general theological bent and great service opportunities. As this changes, there’s a need for our churches to be ecumenically welcoming, and one way we can do that is through Communion. Some churches choose to only offer grape juice during communion, which grew out of prohibition and later a concern for the care of alcoholics in the community. Other churches, such as the Episcopal Church, will only accept wine as an appropriate option for communion–no juice is offered–out of their understanding of fealty to scripture.
Many churches are now offering a hybrid, with both grape juice and wine available during Communion. By offering both, the concerns over alcohol are preserved for some, while the full ecumenical table is offered for others who grew up in higher church Eucharistic traditions. You may have noticed that West Linn Lutheran Church offered both wine and juice at the Communion service we shared in September? The Worship Committee and Session of EPC have decided to give both a chance at EPC. When the plate is passed, or when you come up on Sundays we serve via intinction, you’ll find red (purple) grape juice and pink (rose) wine. Both, from a Presbyterian perspective, are equally valid and equally blessed as elements of our Communion table, and both are offered, so that each in our community may choose as suits their taste, theology, and preference. As always, gluten free bread will also be available.