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Re: Frequency of Communion Questions

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  • gmw
    Just thought I d add this from our doctrinal standards (Directory for Public Worship): THE communion, or supper of the Lord, is frequently to be celebrated;
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 1, 2003
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      Just thought I'd add this from our doctrinal standards (Directory for
      Public Worship):

      "THE communion, or supper of the Lord, is frequently to be celebrated;
      but how often, may be considered and determined by the ministers, and
      other church-governors of each congregation, as they shall find most
      convenient for the comfort and edification of the people committed to
      their charge."

      And this from the First Book of Discipline:

      "Four times in the year we think sufficient to the administration of
      the Lord's Table, which we desire to be distinct, that the
      superstition of times may be avoided so far as may be....We think
      therefore most expedient, that the first Sunday of March be appointed
      for one [time]; the first Sunday of June for another; the first Sunday
      of September for the third; and the first Sunday of December for the
      fourth. We do not deny but that any several church, for reasonable
      causes, may change the time, and may minister ofter; but we study to
      suppress superstition."

      gmw.
    • thebishopsdoom
      ... Actually, I sent a reply privately to the individual who asked the question, mostly because of his asking about practical consequences of the switch from
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 1, 2003
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        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
        <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
        >
        > Just thought I'd add...

        Actually, I sent a reply privately to the individual who asked the
        question, mostly because of his asking about "practical consequences"
        of the switch from more to less or vice versa on frequency in a
        particular congregation, and I didn't see the need to express
        particulars in public forum.
        If I recall correctly:
        Calvin pressed for weekly, but could not get the reform. he later
        admitted pastoral discretion to determine what frequency may best
        benefit the people. I think Basel may have ended up doing it weekly,
        but most reformed churches in that area of Europe by default followed
        a 4x a year scheme derived from a certain medieval schedule. I think
        some others did the 2x a year schedule, but I don't recall where or
        if I may be even remembering that wrong.
        Knox presented the idea of a monthly communing in his Order of Geneva
        I understand, and in Scotland, they believed that 4x for cities, 2x
        for rural areas should be sufficient, but there was allowance for
        some variation.
        1640s, I think 2,3, or 4x a year was common in Scotland.
        At some point after the Revolution Settlement, 1x a year became
        increasingly common. I don't recall my resource, but I have heard of
        less than 1x in a decade in one parish. Sometimes it was due to lack
        of available pastors, sometimes not.
        The mainline presbies in America established 4x a year sometime in
        the 1700s (not sure offhand what was going on in the Isles at this
        same time, I had thought they may have begun going towards that
        frequency as well, but don't recall if I saw anything on that before
        or not). Other groups due to lack of ministers and distances
        travelled by some in order to attend a communion service when one was
        available in maybe a couple days journey away had very infrequent
        communion - less than once a year (or even decade, we can't forget
        all the presbies that were over here from the late 1600s without
        pastors sometimes for decades; and that not just with respect to
        dissenters, but also other presbies scattered about the colonies).
        The infrequency became a habit among some, while others complained
        that the infrequency was causing abuses during the services that
        preceded the communion service (it was a Thursday to Monday season,
        each day to be treated as a sabbath, with preaching sometimes going
        on for hours) and superstitious views of the sacrament.
        It think the tendency generally arose since that time to press for
        either weekly or quarterly as THE view taught in the Bible (only a
        very few taught annual as THE view).
        As you pointed out, there seems to be a tendency in various standards
        and formulas for some amount of discretion in the frequency, so long
        as superstition is avoided and the people are benefited. At the same
        time, there is a tendency to argue that it gets to a point of
        question when a pastor whose congregation is prepared refuses for
        long lengths of time to have theLord's Supper. While no hard and fast
        line was necessary drawn as essential, most believed that less than
        once a year when there were ministerial means for having it and the
        congregation was not in a state of scandal was generally regarded as
        waiting too long.
        -thebishopsdoom
      • gmw
        ... wrote: Thanks, buddy. Hey, can you clarify this for me: The infrequency became a habit among some, while others complained that the
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 1, 2003
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          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
          <no_reply@y...> wrote:

          Thanks, buddy. Hey, can you clarify this for me:

          "The infrequency became a habit among some, while others complained
          that the infrequency was causing abuses during the services that
          preceded the communion service (it was a Thursday to Monday season,
          each day to be treated as a sabbath, with preaching sometimes going
          on for hours) and superstitious views of the sacrament."

          Speak more of this "season," if you please.

          gmw.
        • thebishopsdoom
          ... Well, from what I gather, it involved preaching from Thursday to Monday in services that sometimes were not unlike what we would call today tent meeting
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 1, 2003
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            --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
            <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
            > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
            > <no_reply@y...> wrote:
            >
            > Thanks, buddy. Hey, can you clarify this for me:
            >
            > "The infrequency became a habit among some, while others complained
            > that the infrequency was causing abuses during the services that
            > preceded the communion service (it was a Thursday to Monday season,
            > each day to be treated as a sabbath, with preaching sometimes going
            > on for hours) and superstitious views of the sacrament."
            >
            > Speak more of this "season," if you please.
            >
            > gmw.
            Well, from what I gather, it involved preaching from Thursday to
            Monday in services that sometimes were not unlike what we would call
            today "tent meeting revival services." Communicants were expected to
            attend services and work was forbidden from 6p.m. Wednesday night
            until I guess the next Tuesday morning. The whole time if I recall,
            was a part of "communion season."
            Preaching was long. I have heard of John Cuthbertson holding a
            service 9 hours long.
            The other thing I am aware of is that some families (not just covies)
            were exceedingly strict with the "no work" requirements, though I
            won't say it was universally held as strictly as the example I am
            giving here. I understand from some records online regarding a
            certain John Bourne and his family, 18th century American covies,
            that it is recorded that on sabbaths, washing dishes was forbidden.
            They had to leave dirty dishes until Monday. Cooking was also
            forbidden, including heating food - only coffee could be heated, and
            only in the morning (to help waken the family, no doubt). It is
            recorded that it was forbidden to crack nuts, or to pick up a fallen
            apple off the ground and eat it because it was defined as "unecessary
            work." Whether the rules were so strictly enforced for the whole
            communion season or no, I can't say, but my inkling is that some
            families were really taking with them a whole week's worth of cold
            food and unwashed dishes.
            -thebishopsdoom
          • gmw
            ... I guess I m not understanding the idea of why a communion season where every day is treated as a holyday was deemed necessary. I mean, doesn t the
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 2, 2003
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              --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
              <no_reply@y...> wrote:

              > Well, from what I gather, it involved preaching from Thursday to
              > Monday in services that sometimes were not unlike what we would
              > call today "tent meeting revival services."

              I guess I'm not understanding the idea of why a "communion season"
              where every day is treated as a holyday was deemed necessary. I mean,
              doesn't the Directory simply say,

              "Where this sacrament cannot with convenience be frequently
              administered, it is requisite that publick warning be given the
              sabbath-day before the administration thereof: and that either then,
              or on some day of that week, something concerning that ordinance, and
              the due preparation thereunto, and participation thereof, be taught;
              that, by the diligent use of all means sanctified of God to that end,
              both in publick and private, all may come better prepared to that
              heavenly feast." ?

              > only coffee could be heated,

              This I understand, coffee is an act of necessity and mercy.

              gmw.
            • thebishopsdoom
              ... mean, ... Let me clarify. I m discussing what became the historical practice among presbyterians, I m not advocating what I believe about required
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 2, 2003
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                --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
                <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
                > I guess I'm not understanding the idea of why a "communion season"
                > where every day is treated as a holyday was deemed necessary. I
                mean,
                > doesn't the Directory simply say...

                Let me clarify.
                I'm discussing what became the historical practice among
                presbyterians, I'm not advocating what I believe about required
                preparations for communion, or what the old standards required.
                From the habit of infrequent communing and the fact that these things
                were going on, it seems to have become an idea in some presbyterians'
                minds as though such intense preparation was always required in order
                for anyone to be properly prepared to partake, and spoke out against
                more frequent communing that it would not allow such
                intense "preparation" for communion as was being thought necessary.
                Or if not necessary, those who questioned whether it could be done
                another way were sometimes attacked as being of no piety for not
                desiring to have such drawn out and elaborate services surrounding
                communion.
                The practice of Thursday to Monday services for communion persists in
                some presbyterian churches. For example, the Free Pres. Church of
                Scotland appears to do a Thursday thru Monday communion season. (I
                also noticed on another FP site a notice that such and such
                session "has decided there will be no communion this year.") A Free
                Church of Scotland website also had an "end of season assessment"
                from this past October where the minister wrote:
                "For all our emphasis on the simplicity of New Testament worship, we
                seem to have built an elaborate formal structure around the Lord's
                Supper. We have services from Thursday through to Monday, in most
                cases in both morning and evening. In my own congregation there are
                fourteen distinct acts of worship spread over these five days, all of
                which are designed in some way to make the sacrament meaningful,
                although just how I am not sure."
                A Free Church of Scotland Continuing site gave reports of upcoming
                communion in various locations, and they list dates starting on
                Thursdays and ending Mondays.
                My experience with the RPCNA was simply to let people know well in
                advance when communion would be, and to touch upon the things the
                Directory mentions above with repsect to communion during the
                previous Lord's Days rather than having a weekday preparation service
                (which would have been impractical anyway seeing that for worship
                services they rented out a room on Lord's days from a local YMCA and
                would not have been guaranteed being able to do so on a weekday -
                especially since it couldn't be covered in one meeting since
                different people worked very different schedules and there would have
                had to have been one in the morning and one in the evening to
                accomodate everyone).
                You might find the historical essays here of interest in relation to
                the practice:
                http://www.kintyremag.co.uk/2000/42/page4.html
                http://web.ukonline.co.uk/d.haslam/mccheyne/hewat/COMMUNION_SEASONS.ht
                m
                http://www.freechurch.org/revival/revival6.htm
              • revrayjoseph
                I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) Church in Hopkinton, Iowa, where we had Thursday Preparatory Service (at 10:00 am - I was excused from
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 2, 2003
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                  I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) Church in
                  Hopkinton, Iowa, where we had Thursday Preparatory Service (at 10:00
                  am - I was excused from school) - and Friday Preparatory Service (at
                  7:30 pm) - and Saturday Preparatory Service (at 3:30 pm after 2:00
                  pm Communicants' Membership Class) - Sabbath am Communion Service -
                  (at 11:00 am) - Sabbath evening Thanksgiving Service - (at 7:30 pm) -
                  and Monday morning Thanksgiving Service - (at 10:00 am - I was
                  excused from school) - all this with the preaching of a visiting
                  pastor called a "Communion Assistant".

                  Ray Joseph




                  --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
                  <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                  > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
                  > <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
                  > > I guess I'm not understanding the idea of why a "communion
                  season"
                  > > where every day is treated as a holyday was deemed necessary. I
                  > mean,
                  > > doesn't the Directory simply say...
                  >
                  > Let me clarify.
                  > I'm discussing what became the historical practice among
                  > presbyterians, I'm not advocating what I believe about required
                  > preparations for communion, or what the old standards required.
                  > From the habit of infrequent communing and the fact that these
                  things
                  > were going on, it seems to have become an idea in some
                  presbyterians'
                  > minds as though such intense preparation was always required in
                  order
                  > for anyone to be properly prepared to partake, and spoke out
                  against
                  > more frequent communing that it would not allow such
                  > intense "preparation" for communion as was being thought
                  necessary.
                  > Or if not necessary, those who questioned whether it could be done
                  > another way were sometimes attacked as being of no piety for not
                  > desiring to have such drawn out and elaborate services surrounding
                  > communion.
                  > The practice of Thursday to Monday services for communion persists
                  in
                  > some presbyterian churches. For example, the Free Pres. Church of
                  > Scotland appears to do a Thursday thru Monday communion season. (I
                  > also noticed on another FP site a notice that such and such
                  > session "has decided there will be no communion this year.") A
                  Free
                  > Church of Scotland website also had an "end of season assessment"
                  > from this past October where the minister wrote:
                  > "For all our emphasis on the simplicity of New Testament worship,
                  we
                  > seem to have built an elaborate formal structure around the Lord's
                  > Supper. We have services from Thursday through to Monday, in most
                  > cases in both morning and evening. In my own congregation there
                  are
                  > fourteen distinct acts of worship spread over these five days, all
                  of
                  > which are designed in some way to make the sacrament meaningful,
                  > although just how I am not sure."
                  > A Free Church of Scotland Continuing site gave reports of upcoming
                  > communion in various locations, and they list dates starting on
                  > Thursdays and ending Mondays.
                  > My experience with the RPCNA was simply to let people know well in
                  > advance when communion would be, and to touch upon the things the
                  > Directory mentions above with repsect to communion during the
                  > previous Lord's Days rather than having a weekday preparation
                  service
                  > (which would have been impractical anyway seeing that for worship
                  > services they rented out a room on Lord's days from a local YMCA
                  and
                  > would not have been guaranteed being able to do so on a weekday -
                  > especially since it couldn't be covered in one meeting since
                  > different people worked very different schedules and there would
                  have
                  > had to have been one in the morning and one in the evening to
                  > accomodate everyone).
                  > You might find the historical essays here of interest in relation
                  to
                  > the practice:
                  > http://www.kintyremag.co.uk/2000/42/page4.html
                  >
                  http://web.ukonline.co.uk/d.haslam/mccheyne/hewat/COMMUNION_SEASONS.h
                  t
                  > m
                  > http://www.freechurch.org/revival/revival6.htm
                • gmw
                  ... Right, right, yeah... I know that. I was just confused as to why Presbies would be insisting on these things. I get it now, given the great infrequency,
                  Message 8 of 12 , Dec 2, 2003
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                    --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
                    <no_reply@y...> wrote:

                    > Let me clarify.
                    > I'm discussing what became the historical practice among
                    > presbyterians, I'm not advocating what I believe about required
                    > preparations for communion, or what the old standards required.

                    Right, right, yeah... I know that. I was just confused as to why
                    Presbies would be insisting on these things. I get it now, given the
                    great infrequency, they were playing catch up.

                    gmw.
                  • gmw
                    Wow, Mr. Joseph. How things have changed, huh? gmw.
                    Message 9 of 12 , Dec 2, 2003
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                      Wow, Mr. Joseph. How things have changed, huh?

                      gmw.

                      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, revrayjoseph
                      <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                      > I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) Church in
                      > Hopkinton, Iowa, where we had Thursday Preparatory Service (at 10:00
                      > am - I was excused from school) - and Friday Preparatory Service (at
                      > 7:30 pm) - and Saturday Preparatory Service (at 3:30 pm after 2:00
                      > pm Communicants' Membership Class) - Sabbath am Communion Service -
                      > (at 11:00 am) - Sabbath evening Thanksgiving Service - (at 7:30 pm) -
                      > and Monday morning Thanksgiving Service - (at 10:00 am - I was
                      > excused from school) - all this with the preaching of a visiting
                      > pastor called a "Communion Assistant".
                      >
                      > Ray Joseph
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
                      > <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                      > > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
                      > > <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
                      > > > I guess I'm not understanding the idea of why a "communion
                      > season"
                      > > > where every day is treated as a holyday was deemed necessary. I
                      > > mean,
                      > > > doesn't the Directory simply say...
                      > >
                      > > Let me clarify.
                      > > I'm discussing what became the historical practice among
                      > > presbyterians, I'm not advocating what I believe about required
                      > > preparations for communion, or what the old standards required.
                      > > From the habit of infrequent communing and the fact that these
                      > things
                      > > were going on, it seems to have become an idea in some
                      > presbyterians'
                      > > minds as though such intense preparation was always required in
                      > order
                      > > for anyone to be properly prepared to partake, and spoke out
                      > against
                      > > more frequent communing that it would not allow such
                      > > intense "preparation" for communion as was being thought
                      > necessary.
                      > > Or if not necessary, those who questioned whether it could be done
                      > > another way were sometimes attacked as being of no piety for not
                      > > desiring to have such drawn out and elaborate services surrounding
                      > > communion.
                      > > The practice of Thursday to Monday services for communion persists
                      > in
                      > > some presbyterian churches. For example, the Free Pres. Church of
                      > > Scotland appears to do a Thursday thru Monday communion season. (I
                      > > also noticed on another FP site a notice that such and such
                      > > session "has decided there will be no communion this year.") A
                      > Free
                      > > Church of Scotland website also had an "end of season assessment"
                      > > from this past October where the minister wrote:
                      > > "For all our emphasis on the simplicity of New Testament worship,
                      > we
                      > > seem to have built an elaborate formal structure around the Lord's
                      > > Supper. We have services from Thursday through to Monday, in most
                      > > cases in both morning and evening. In my own congregation there
                      > are
                      > > fourteen distinct acts of worship spread over these five days, all
                      > of
                      > > which are designed in some way to make the sacrament meaningful,
                      > > although just how I am not sure."
                      > > A Free Church of Scotland Continuing site gave reports of upcoming
                      > > communion in various locations, and they list dates starting on
                      > > Thursdays and ending Mondays.
                      > > My experience with the RPCNA was simply to let people know well in
                      > > advance when communion would be, and to touch upon the things the
                      > > Directory mentions above with repsect to communion during the
                      > > previous Lord's Days rather than having a weekday preparation
                      > service
                      > > (which would have been impractical anyway seeing that for worship
                      > > services they rented out a room on Lord's days from a local YMCA
                      > and
                      > > would not have been guaranteed being able to do so on a weekday -
                      > > especially since it couldn't be covered in one meeting since
                      > > different people worked very different schedules and there would
                      > have
                      > > had to have been one in the morning and one in the evening to
                      > > accomodate everyone).
                      > > You might find the historical essays here of interest in relation
                      > to
                      > > the practice:
                      > > http://www.kintyremag.co.uk/2000/42/page4.html
                      > >
                      > http://web.ukonline.co.uk/d.haslam/mccheyne/hewat/COMMUNION_SEASONS.h
                      > t
                      > > m
                      > > http://www.freechurch.org/revival/revival6.htm
                    • Abigail
                      My sister is a member of an RPCNA church where they have communion twice a year, starting with a Saturday evening service, then communion in the a.m. on the
                      Message 10 of 12 , Dec 3, 2003
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                        My sister is a member of an RPCNA church where they have communion
                        twice a year, starting with a Saturday evening service, then
                        communion in the a.m. on the Sabbath, then a thanksgiving service
                        Sabbath evening, usually with a visiting "communion assistant".
                        The church I've been attending (RPCNA) has communion once a month, in
                        the afternoon service. The congregation is always advised the week
                        before communion to prepare by self-examination and renewed
                        repentance, meditating soberly on the work of Christ. I haven't been
                        to any nine-hour services yet!

                        Abigail

                        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, revrayjoseph
                        <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                        > I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) Church in
                        > Hopkinton, Iowa, where we had Thursday Preparatory Service (at
                        10:00
                        > am - I was excused from school) - and Friday Preparatory Service
                        (at
                        > 7:30 pm) - and Saturday Preparatory Service (at 3:30 pm after 2:00
                        > pm Communicants' Membership Class) - Sabbath am Communion Service -
                        > (at 11:00 am) - Sabbath evening Thanksgiving Service - (at 7:30
                        pm) -
                        > and Monday morning Thanksgiving Service - (at 10:00 am - I was
                        > excused from school) - all this with the preaching of a visiting
                        > pastor called a "Communion Assistant".
                        >
                        > Ray Joseph
                        >
                        >
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