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Question and Answer

Serving Communion to the Sick

Question:

Do you provide for the serving of communion to the sick?

Answer:

Yes. The Directory for Public Worship, Chapter IV-A-3 requires that the Lord's Supper (and Baptism) ordinarily should be observed in a public worship service. But note the following: "Nevertheless, if a session shall judge that very unusual circumstances shall obtain in a particular instance, the sacraments may be administered elsewhere; but, in any event, the church must be represented in the service."

This means that if a member in good standing is hospitalized or housebound due to illness or other incapacitating circumstances, the Lord's Supper can be administered outside a regular worship service. However, "the church must be represented at such a service." That means that a pastor must administer the sacrament, accompanied by at least one other elder. It is highly appropriate that other members of the church also be present and partake with the shut-in. So the church, in principle, is present though not in totality. In churches that I have served, certain ill or disabled members are so served in the afternoon of the day on which communion is regularly served.

We believe that the Lord's Supper is a means of grace, and that every believer is entitled to that means of grace, the sick and the infirm particularly! Of course, when this is done, the Session at its next meeting should record the fact in its minutes. And if you are interested in having the Lord's Supper served to such a person, you should feel free to request to your session that such be done.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

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You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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