Why do most Methodist churches serve grape juice instead of wine for Holy Communion?
In the history of the church, wine has been the normal drink for Holy Communion. In the 19th century, Methodists and other denominations were persuaded that the unfermented juice of the grape was an important witness to the grace of God and of the churches resistance to the abuses of alcoholic beverage.
This Holy Mystery, the official statement on communion, says, "Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and many Protestant denominations have always used wine in the Eucharist. During the movement against beverage alcohol in the late nineteenth century, the predecessor bodies of The United Methodist Church turned to the use of unfermented grape juice... (The term wine is used in this document because of its biblical and historical antecedents, although United Methodists customarily serve unfermented grape juice in Holy Communion.)"
The United Methodist Book of Worship says, "Although the historic and ecumenical Christian practice has been to use wine, the use of unfermented grape juice by The United Methodist Church and its predecessors since the late nineteenth century expresses pastoral concern for recovering alcoholics, enables the participation of children and youth, and supports the church's witness of abstinence."
(The United Methodist Book of Worship. Copyright © 1992 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.)
There is no longer a prohibition against serving wine at communion, so some United Methodist churches also offer wine.