In the Episcopal Church, the communion table is open to all baptized Christians, no matter what age they are, no matter their denomination, no matter whether they have taken a class in sacramental theology. The church also believes that children need to be instructed in what happens at the altar, prepared for the blessing of receiving Jesus.
At St. James, deciding if and when children are prepared for Holy Communion is left to parents who know their children best. Some of our children receive the consecrated bread every time they come to the rail; others receive bread and wine; others have a blessing asked for them. The Eucharist holds a central place in the life of our church community, bringing us all together in Christ’s sacrifice, grace, and love for us.
Because God’s love for us in the Bread and Wine are so mysterious and profound, some instruction is recommended for our children, either prior to taking Communion for the first time, or after they have begun to receive. Father George holds a short series of First Communion classes each year during Lent, talking to parents about the importance of Communion in our Episcopal/Anglican tradition, giving the children practice in how to receive the Sacrament and sharing some thoughts with them, and sending them home with a little book. Then we have a time of celebration when the first receive, after instruction, usually on Easter Sunday.