Churches across the United States and the globe plan to observe the annual World Communion Sunday, and much of the focus will be on persecuted Christians.
The focus for many will be on the sacrament of Holy Communion and the sense of solidarity it gives among Christendom. This includes remembering those in the Christian faith who suffer persecution for their beliefs, be it in the Middle East, East Asia, or elsewhere.
Rev. C.K. Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, told The Christian Post that World Communion Sunday was a way that the Church "recognizes its solidarity with fellow Christians across the globe in our prayers and corporate worship."
"As active participants in the worldwide Anglican Communion, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and other ecumenical alliances, Episcopalians affirm our place in the larger whole that is the Body of Christ," Robertson said. "…and through our advocacy and relief efforts, we seek to stand by our fellow Christians suffering from all forms of privation and persecution."
A spokesperson from the United Methodist Church, a global denomination, told CP that the World Communion Sunday is "a distinctive opportunity to experience Holy Communion in the context of the global community of faith."
"On that day, we remember that we are part of the whole body of believers. Christians celebrate the communion liturgy in as many ways as there are congregations," he said. "World Communion Sunday can be both a profound worship experience and a time for learning more about our wider community of faith."
As noted by the latest edition of the UMC Book of Discipline, "World Communion Sunday calls the church to be the Catholic inclusive church."
With UMC, programs focused on giving and scholarships are attached to the observance, with many services taking up a special offering for these philanthropic endeavors.
Similarly, it can be noted with the United Church of Christ that many of its estimated 5,100 congregations observe World Communion Sunday.
UCC leaders also note the need to focus on fellow Christians who live in lands hostile to the faith and may take Communion under threat from persecution.
In comments given to CP the Rev. James Moos, a National Officer of the United Church of Christ, spoke of this link between the upcoming observance and remembering the persecuted.
"World Communion Sunday connects us with the world. And part of our prayers should be for all who suffer persecution, whether they are Christians or members of another faith," said Moos.
The Rev. Jonathan Barnes, a UCC Global Ministries executive for mission education, provided CP with similar comments on the issue of the persecuted church.
"For the United Church of Christ, World Communion Sunday offers us a reminder that Christians around the world, regardless of how we may be separated historically, are truly one body," said Barnes.
"I Corinthians 12: 26 says that If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, so we especially remember on this special Sunday Christians and others of faith who are persecuted because of their beliefs and convictions."