This Sunday is World Communion Sunday, first celebrated at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1933 where Dr. Hugh Thompson Kerr served as pastor.
"Dr. Kerr first conceived the notion of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly (1930). Dr. Kerr's younger son, the Rev. Dr. Donald Craig Kerr, who is pastor emeritus of the Roland Park Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, was sixteen in 1933. He has related that World Communion Sunday grew out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. It was their attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity-in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another. When Donald Kerr was asked how the idea of World Communion Sunday spread from that first service to the world wide practice of today, this is what he replied:
"The concept spread very slowly at the start. People did not give it a whole lot of thought. It was during the Second World War that the spirit caught hold, because we were trying to hold the world together. World Wide Communion symbolized the effort to hold things together, in a spiritual sense. It emphasized that we are one in the Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
-- excerpts from presbyterianmission.org
Well, here we are 90 years later, about to celebrate World Communion Sunday! And it seems the world is still trying to hold things together during this tumultuous time... how blessed we are to know that we can still be one in the Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even though socially distanced.
Remember, this is not just a Presbyterian celebration! Although it began with a Presbyterian pastor in a Presbyterian church, a few years later in 1940, the Department of Evangelism of the Federal Council of Churches (a predecessor body of the National Council of Churches) promoted extending the celebration to a number of churches around the world, and the celebration became widespread! Now our other church neighbors (of many denominations) near (in Johns Creek) and far (worldwide), celebrate this special day on the first Sunday in October every year!
And what makes this so exciting is that every communion celebration points us to the ultimate gathering where "people will come from East and West, and from North and South, and take their places at the banquet in the Kingdom of God." (Luke 13:29) On World Communion Sunday, we get a priceless glimpse of that feast!! So wherever you are this Sunday, whether in your living room, or our parking lot, or anywhere else in the world, join us in celebrating this foretaste of the feast to come!