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Published Date: May 27, 2012

Published Date: May 27, 2012

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Unity through Communion

Throughout much of my childhood, I possessed my home congregation’s three unofficial requirements to serve communion: a sport coat and tie, a family that arrived on time, and a Y chromosome. Therefore my brother (who not surprisingly met the same criteria) and I served communion almost every Sunday morning and evening from seventh grade well into college. As a result, when I am asked to serve the Lord’s supper today, I usually give no more than passing notice to the high privilege that such service is. In contrast, I know several women who never served communion until their 30s or 40s, and without exception they were deeply appreciative of the opportunity when it finally came their way.

Helping to distribute the elements of the Lord’s supper is service, not leadership. No biblical text discusses who may or may not do so. Congregations that believe “men and women have equal value but different roles” should allow women to serve communion (as some indeed do). Such service could be a point of agreement between complementarians and egalitarians. Even leading complementarian Wayne Grudem, in his book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (Multnomah, 2004, p. 64) affirms these points:

“What about women serving communion? In some denominations, there is a strong tradition that only elders (or the equivalent to elders) help in serving the Lord’s supper. In such churches, I understand that it would not be possible to have women serving communion unless the policy that allows only elders to serve communion is changed. And that is a matter for an individual church or denomination to decide. But I see no persuasive reason why only church officers should serve communion. In churches where there is no such restriction, surely it would be appropriate that both men and women join In serving communion together, (as they do at Scottsdale Bible Church in Arizona, where I am a member), though the pastor or some other elder should officiate. Where this is done, it becomes a regular, highly visible testimony to our equal value and dignity before God.”

Though I don’t agree with everything the above quotation states and implies, I and most readers of The Scroll wholeheartedly affirm that women may indeed serve the Lord’s supper. Unfortunately, most complementarians are unaware that one of their most prolific and high-profile leaders agrees with us!