Communion is observed at least four times a year and regularly scheduled on the church calendar. Communion elements added to the customary worship service include foot-washing (ordinance of humility), and the partaking of unleavened bread and unfermented grape juice.
Many Seventh-day Adventists, while they take part in Communion services, often don’t fully understand what it represents. Those not of the Adventist faith may find the practice quite different from what they have seen in other churches. Hopefully you will find explanations here that will help create understanding. Questions may be directed to our church staff by e-mail or telephoning the church office.
Communion is one of the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You may read the belief statement here as well as an explanation from the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe.
When Jesus was here on earth, He met with His disciples at the close of His earthly ministry for one last supper. They gathered in an upper room to eat the Passover feast together. Customarily, the table would include the Passover lamb. However, we do not read of its presence in any of the gospels. But we do know that the true Lamb was present in the form of Jesus Christ.
Included in their meal was unleavened bread and wine (unfermented grape juice). Jesus led them in eating first the bread as a symbol of His body, which would be broken for them (and us). He then followed by drinking with them the pure juice of the grape (unfermented) that represented His blood, which would be shed in only a matter of hours. You can read the entire story in Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-38, and John 13:1-30. Jesus bid us to “do in remembrance of Me.”
Participating in the Communion service allows us to express our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We remember His death and sacrifice on our behalf and recommit ourselves to joyfully proclaim His death and resurrection until He comes again.
Communion service is announced at least one week prior to encourage members to self-examine, repent, and confess in preparation for the service. It is a time of renewal and recommitment. Just as when we were first baptized, we are washed, we are cleansed, and ready for service. Communion in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is open to all believers.
What You Can Expect
Communion at Gurnee SDA Church follows the same worship order as other Sabbaths. It is part of both early and the 11:15 services. What you read here will describe what you will experience during the second worship service, but the same elements are found in the other, however, it is a bit less formal.
Early service is followed by Sabbath School. The second worship service will follow the same pattern as other Sabbaths with hymns, music, offerings, and a sermon, however, the sermon is typically shorter. Often the choir will sing during this service, but not always. Music is carefully selected by our Minister of Music to set the overall tone of the worship.
After the homily, the pastor will dismiss the congregation for the foot-washing service (ordinance of humility). Foot-washing takes place in several other rooms within the church. During this portion of the service, two individuals partner and follow the example of Jesus when He stooped to wash His disciple’s feet. Each person serves the other in turn. There are rooms designated for women only (a woman washes the feet of another woman), men only (a man washes the feet of another man), and families (family members or married couples partake in the foot-washing together).
During the foot-washing you may hear piano or other music played in the background or sometimes hymns sung to set the right spiritual tone. Foot-washing partners may find each other prior to the service, but a partner is always found in whichever room is selected. People are there to guide and direct. The foot-washing service is self-directed with chairs, basins, water, and towels provided. Often partners will pray with each other before leaving the room. Once the partners have completed the foot-washing, they leave to re-enter the sanctuary. Quiet decorum is encouraged during this time as each contemplates the meaning of Christ’s example. To read an article about foot-washing by Pastor Campos, pertaining to this portion of the service.
Gradually the congregation reassembles in the sanctuary sitting only in the pews without the white ribbons. This is to allow our deacons to serve individuals easily during the next portion of the service. However, if no seat is available, individuals may sit in one of the marked pews. The worship resumes in the sanctuary after the foot-washing. The pastor often makes several remarks related to the homily prior to inviting the congregation to partake in the emblems of communion. A prayer is offered by either a pastor or an elder blessing the emblems. The pastor then presents the bread and juice in specially provided plates to deacons who will distribute the unleavened bread and grape juice to the congregation. Each member will take one of each as it is presented to them and hold them until all have been served so that the church family may partake together.
Once the deacons have come back to the table at the front of the church, the plates are returned to the pastor. Each participating deacon is served finally ending with the leading pastor being served last. The deacons are seated and the pastor then leads the congregation in first eating the bread (a small wheat-based cracker) and then the grape juice (presented in a small cup). After partaking of the emblems, the empty cups are placed in the slots provided in the pew directly ahead of the congregant. Children often are used to collect the empty cups in a basket, however, all cups are collected and disposed of at the end of the service by the Deacons.
The congregation will sing a hymn just as Jesus did with His disciples. Upon leaving the sanctuary, the congregation is given the opportunity to give an offering at the door which is used for the Good Samaritan Fund. This is a special offering taken only at Communion. The proceeds are managed by the head deacon and pastoral staff and used solely for the relief of Gurnee SDA Church members who suffer financial emergencies due to loss of work, illness, or other unexpected economic setbacks. Funds from other sources are set aside for non-member community assistance.