Open even wider

Sep 10, 2018 by

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Years ago I understood open communion to mean a congregation welcomed all who claimed Christ as Lord to the communion table. Closed communion meant a participant had to be a member of that denomination or, in some cases, that specific congregation. I assumed baptism was a given in either case. Now I read that open communion refers to baptism, or the lack of it, not that one is welcome regardless of what church one is a member of. How did this redefinition of open communion take place?

Alice Ruth Ramseyer
Bluffton, Ohio

Editor’s reply: Protestants today generally practice open communion as it was traditionally defined: One does not have to be a member of a certain denomination or congregation. Some practice an even more open communion, which gives the term a different meaning: One does not have to be baptized. The change may have to do with a higher value being placed on inclusion and equality, perhaps spurred by a desire to compensate for a perceived excess of exclusiveness in the past.

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