(from a letter to the congregation written in January 1989)
Dear Congregation of the Church of the Servant:
You may recall that Council has been considering the matter of children at communion for some years now. This past summer Synod made some recommendations, and last fall Council solicited the reactions and contributions of members (especially parents) on how we should proceed. Here now is the direction Council wishes us to take.
In view of Council’s responsibility for supervising the sacraments, and in light of the tradition of family communion? at COS, we will be offering a Children’s Communion Class for those children who wish to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Our pastor will visit church school classes to invite children to attend such a class. We wish parents to be listening to their children for signs of desire, interest, or readiness to attend such a class.
Then in a class (or classes) at a level appropriate to the children’s ages, the pastor will instruct them in the meaning of communion and the commitment they make when they participate. At a later date, in the context of a worship service, in a circle with their parents, those children will affirm their faith and then be invited to eat the bread and drink the wine of Holy Communion.
Now it may be difficult to say when a child reaches the age and understanding appropriate to participate in communion. Perhaps it is helpful to think of the words of invitation we read weekly at communion: All those who are truly sorry for their sins, who sincerely believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and who desire to live in obedience to him, are now invited to come with gladness to the table of the Lord. This embracing invitation expresses the point that those partaking do need to have some understanding of sin, of salvation, and of obedient life. We expect that parents will be in the best position to look and listen for those evidences of faith and knowledge that should precede participation, just as we will expect them to continue to supervise the presence of their children in the communion circle, and to administer the elements to them.
Given the structure we are trying to put into place, we, with Synod, begin to see a somewhat different role than the traditional one for Adult Profession of Faith? We expect that children, instructed in Communion Class, blessed in participating, and educated in church school, will in adolescence or young adulthood wish to identify themselves individually as members of the Church, and participate in the responsibilities of adult membership. By their adult profession they will express their personal faith and knowledge, acknowledging their own commitment to membership, and becoming responsible to the Church directly (rather than via their parents).
So then we see a natural progression in the lives of our believing children. Before they can understand, their parents bring them in faith for baptism; here God marks them as his own. Thereafter the children, as part of the Church family, come with their parents to the communion circle to receive a blessing from a council person. At the right age, we trust our children will respond in faith, and desire to participate in communion, still in the context and nurture of their families. Upon beginning to become adults, independent and responsible, we trust they will profess their knowledge and faith in Christ, and their adult commitment to membership in the church. So at birth and in youth, as children and adults, young or old, in life and in death, do we all belong, body and soul, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
The Council of the Church of the Servant