Anglicans already share communion with other Christians. In Canada, they are working on the next step: Sharing communion with the unbaptized. And people who follow other religions:
Canadian Anglicans will hold discussions this spring about whether baptism is necessary for taking part in communion — questioning a requirement of Christianity that has existed for 2,000 years.
“Official teaching is you have to be baptized first. But a number of clergy across the country feel strongly about this as an issue and many have approached their bishops about allowing for an ‘open table’ in which all could take communion,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who is the principal secretary to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, head of the Anglican Church of Canada.
It will be discussed when the House of Bishops meet in April, but not as an official topic, he said.
The idea — already rejected as a dangerous step by more orthodox Anglicans — was raised in an article this week in the AnglicanJournal.com in which an Ontario church pastor argues that removing the requirement of baptism would help stop the decline in the number of Anglicans attending services.
Rev. Gary Nicolosi said that if Jesus did not discriminate about who he invited to his table, then the Church should follow his lead.
“How, in our multicultural and pluralistic society, can our churches be places of hospitality if we exclude table fellowship with the non-baptized? This is not an academic question,” wrote Rev. Nicolosi, the pastor at St. James Westminster Anglican Church in London, Ont., and an official Church consultant on how to build membership.
“In Canada, a growing number of the population is not baptized. Included are people from different religious traditions or people with no religious affiliation at all. Quite likely, some are our grandchildren or great-grandchildren, whose parents neglected or refused to have them baptized.
“How can the church effectively minister in a post-Christian world where a significant percentage of the population is not baptized? Some Anglican churches are attempting to meet this challenge by becoming open and inclusive faith communities, ready and willing to support people in their spiritual journeys.”