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Methodist History: Communion Cups

United Methodist Churches welcome everyone who believes to take communion. While this open table is the custom throughout the denomination, you may see slight differences in the way communion is offered. Some churches break loaves of bread to dip in a common cup and other churches prefer individual servings of grape juice. The way we take communion has changed over the years.

Mark Shenise from the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History gives a look at some carefully designed communion cups which allowed Methodists to maintain decorum during Victorian times.

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Mark Shenise, The United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History:   “There’s been an evolution of how communion is distributed through the church through the ages. Of course, you had the common cup in the beginning. And, then by the late 19th century you went through these individual cups, very Victorian sort of thing to do. And, it was a fluted piece and it’s cut on a 45 degree angle. Now a company in Toronto figures this out really quick. ‘Why would you have an individual communion cup?’, real small like your crème de menthe or something that you’re gonna take at dinner, which they’re not gonna do. It’s the late Victorian period. That’s your clue. Because not only are you temperate in the Methodist Church, but you’re Victorian. Put away all appearances of evil. So with the individual communion cups cut on a level, you take that cup. What does it look like I just did? I’m at the bar. I’m taking a shot. I can now empty it. And, it only goes up and touches my nose. I am not throwing my head back and I’m not saying I’m aligned with Satan in demon drink." 

Check out this list of Frequently Asked Questions about communion in The United Methodist Church

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

This video was first posted on September 22, 2016.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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