World Communion Sunday -- Around the World: Sharing the Bread of Life, Cup of Blessing

Ideas for Worship Planners

World Communion Sunday offers congregations a distinctive opportunity to experience Holy Communion in the context of the global community of faith. The first Sunday of October has become a time when Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to remember and affirm Christ as the Head of the Church. On that day, they remember that they are part of the whole body of believers. Whether shared in a grand cathedral, a mud hut, outside on a hilltop, in a meetinghouse, or in a storefront, Christians celebrate the communion liturgy in as many ways as there are congregations. World Communion Sunday can be both a profound worship experience and a time for learning more about our wider community of faith.

The following are bite-sized morsels to stimulate creative thinking. Each one offers a starting point from which to create a meaningful worship experience for World Communion Sunday. The Neighbors in Need offering designated for this Sunday fits with World Communion by focusing on basic needs for food and shelter in this country and abroad. Take time for adequate planning. Assemble a worship-planning team to discuss these ideas, develop your own, and then fashion a service that will speak to your particular liturgical environment. Use these ideas to build on services of Word and Sacrament found in The New Century Hymnal (pages 1–20) or in Book of Worship: United Church of Christ (pages 31–89). Be creative and let your worship resound with praise and thanksgiving.

World Communion Sunday Ideas

Communion Bread from Different Countries
As part of the communion liturgy, use multiple loaves baked by members of the congregation using international recipes. Four loaves could represent the four corners of the world; five: the inhabited continents; six: all the continents; seven: the days of creation; ten: the Hebrew Ten Commandments; twelve: the disciples. "Breads around the World," a resource focusing on bread-baking recipes and worship services for breaking bread from six regions of the world, is available here.

Children's Bread Baking
Have children bake the bread for your communion service as part of their church school class. If they bake ethnic breads, the children, wearing costumes from the appropriate countries, may process into the sanctuary with the bread. During a children's message, focus on the different types of bread as a metaphor for the diversity of the human family.

Bread Sermon
Mix, knead, and prepare a bread recipe as part of the sermon, using each ingredient to symbolize membership in the body of Christ and what it means for all of us to be ingredients in a global village-loaf. Later, bake the loaf and serve it during a time of fellowship. Click here to order Taste the Bread: 30 Children's Sermons on Communion.

Communion Bread from Different Countries
As part of the communion liturgy, use multiple loaves baked by members of the congregation using international recipes. Four loaves could represent the four corners of the world; five: the inhabited continents; six: all the continents; seven: the days of creation; ten: the Hebrew Ten Commandments; twelve: the disciples. "Breads around the World," a resource focusing on bread-baking recipes and worship services for breaking bread from six regions of the world, is available for download, or by calling 866-822-8224 ext. 3208.

  Breads Around the World: AFRICA
  Breads Around the World: CARIBBEAN
  Breads Around the World: CHILE
  Breads Around the World: CHINA
  Breads Around the World: INDIA
  Breads Around the World: MIDDLE EAST

Children's Bread Baking
Have children bake the bread for your communion service as part of their church school class. If they bake ethnic breads, the children, wearing costumes from the appropriate countries, may process into the sanctuary with the bread. During a children's message, focus on the different types of bread as a metaphor for the diversity of the human family. 
Taste the Bread: 30 Children's Sermons on Communion by Kenneth Wezeman, Anna Liechty, Phyllis Vos Wezeman

Bread Sermon
Mix, knead, and prepare a bread recipe as part of the sermon, using each ingredient to symbolize membership in the body of Christ and what it means for all of us to be ingredients in a global village-loaf. Later, bake the loaf and serve it during a time of fellowship.

Traveling Communion
Using different types of bread and chalices, have worshipers move to different areas in the sanctuary to receive the elements by intinction. This journey to receive communion is symbolic of the journey of faith we all take as we seek to share the bread of life with others. As worshipers move, have the choir or soloists offer international music selections.

Visual Communion
If your church uses a video or slide projection system, plan to show images of Christians around the world engaged in ministry and worship. This can be done to musical accompaniment during com­munion or as part of an audio-visual meditation. Using new technologies can bring the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words," to life.

Communion Drama
Commission a member of the congregation or a person from the community to write a short dra­matic scenario to be shared in worship. Have the playwright meet with the pastor to develop an appropriate theme that will complement the sermon. Or, check an Internet search engine for Chris­tian drama resources that can be used with permission.

Creative Litanies
Translate the words "bread," "cup," "peace," "community," and other theological phrases into other languages. Create responsive litanies using these words. Have a litany read by persons scattered around the sanctuary to remind worshipers that they are surrounded by the global body of Christ. Some resources to explore:

World Communion Sunday Service with Missionary Letters
Gifts of Many Cultures by Maren Tirabassi and Kathy Wonson Eddy
Bread for the Journey by Ruth C. Duck
Feasting with God by Holly W. Whitcomb
Harvest for the World by Geoffrey Duncan
UCC World Communion Sunday Resources for 2008 [PDF]

Hymns from a Variety of Cultures
Find hymns from around the world easily in both the Chalice Hymnal and the New Century Hymnal. Hymns are arranged alphabetically by title, country and language. This listing of international hymns can be reproduced as a hymnal insert. Global Hymn Resource

Prayers from Different Cultures
Prayers from different cultures can be shared in the liturgy by worshipers, or have liturgists read them in the original language with a translator sharing them in English. Compiled by Karen Farthing of Eden Seminary, the International Resources for Worship Bibliography includes several resources of prayers and liturgical materials from around the world that are currently in print and that note the country of origin of its prayers. International resources for worship bibliography

Mission Story Sermon
Use the monthly mission story, weekly prayer, missionary letters about communion, and other resources on the Global Ministries website as a source for stories about the church's participation in the needs of the world. After each story is highlighted in the sermon, a prayer could be offered for that particular work and witness.

Pulpit Exchange
Use World Communion Sunday as an opportunity for churches in your community to exchange preachers. Learning more about each other's congregations, even though only across town, helps give perspective to global partnership. Have each congregation bake a loaf of bread for their neigh­boring church.

Invite a Guest Speaker
Have your preaching moment center on the personal reflections of someone in your community who is from a different cultural background. Or, perhaps have three members of your congregation, who have different ethnic backgrounds, offer reflections on their cultural and religious heritage.

Blended Worship
Make the service an ecumenical affair by inviting other churches to join with you in a special service. Work together beforehand to create a "blended" liturgy from the various traditions. Try to incorpo­rate elements from each communion liturgy into your worship. In addition to the lectionary read­ings, you may choose to focus on these passages: Romans 12:3-21 and 1 Corinthians 12: 12-26.

Global Banners
Plan an educational event for the congregation to learn more about our global mission partners. Design and construct colorful banners for hanging in the sanctuary using ethnic cloths and symbols of communion. The banners could be brought into the worship space during the opening hymn, dedicated with a prayer, and even become a focal point for a communion meditation.

Agape Love Feast
Using elements of 1 Corinthians as background for the earliest Christian community's communal supper, incorporate the communion liturgy into an Agape Feast. Process to fellowship hall at the end of worship to enjoy a potluck meal, just as the early Christians did. At an appropriate time, break the bread and pass the cup in an act of joyous celebration.

Hold a Mission Fair
Turn fellowship hall into a mission fair with booths and information showing global partnerships and mission efforts throughout the world. Invite everyone to an ethnic meal and take up an offering for a specific mission project.

Foreign Partnership
Develop a partnership with a congregation in a different country. Share information, traditions, and mission priorities with your new partner. On World Communion Sunday, use the liturgy of your partner church as you hold each other in prayer and remember the global fellowship of faith. Global Mission Partnerships

SECTION MENU
CONTACT INFO