An article in the Wheaton Record on various practices of communion, including the all-school communion held at Wheaton College, includes a quote from a student who grew up in a Grace Brethren congregation. A portion of the story appears below. Click here to read the complete article.
Around the table: Wheaton’s views on communion
Aside from baptism, communion — also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist — is perhaps the most distinguishing Christian ritual. Views on communion within Christianity vary widely; however, even the word “ritual” might betray a specific definition or dogma connected to an institution. How involved is God in our practice of the meal? Is communion a holy sacrament or a symbolic ordinance? Though communion mirrors the universal partaking of Christians in the bodily sacrifice of Christ, why are so many divisions drawn within a practice representing unity?
Wheaton College has a unique demographic: It is a slice of Christian culture that is not a church. Though an expressly Protestant institution, Wheaton espouses no official connections to a single church or denomination. So what are the various views and experiences with the Lord’s Supper among this sundry collection of Christians from sundry denominations and theological backgrounds?
While the stories you’ll see in this piece are by no means exhaustive — in fact, I was struck to find so many similarities in the views expressed by the interviewees — they paint a picture that illustrates just how many places students have arrived from and just what the Eucharist can do to unify the body of Christ, as well as diversify it.
Most Wheaton students come from evangelical or non-denominational backgrounds that typically view the traditional sacraments as memorials of how Jesus lived his life. However, some students, upon arriving at Wheaton, found themselves pushed in a more sacramental direction. Isabel Carter, a junior raised in the Grace Brethren Church — a conservative, non-creedal denomination — told me, “We would have communion maybe once a month. It wasn’t part of the church service. We would eat together after church, wash each others’ feet and then take communion. … It was very important for members of the church because it wasn’t just a ‘go to church, get the thing.’ It was a whole community washing each others’ feet and then partaking in the Eucharist.” Despite the reverence involved in such an event, Carter mentioned that the infrequency of its practice seemed to indicate that communion was held with only a minor importance, and for her it certainly did not seem very significant.
Click here to read the complete article.