Canon, Communion, and Controversy: What We Can—And Should—Learn from the “Communion without Baptism” Debate

October 9, 2023 - October 9, 2023
Monday, October 9, 2023, 4pm-6pm, California Time
Appears to be free.

On October 9, 2023, CDSP will partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California to host an event revisiting recent controversy about the role and relationship of sacraments in the Episcopal Church.

In July 2022, the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Baltimore, MD, considered a resolution put forward by the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. Titled “All Are Welcome at the Table,” this resolution (C028) petitioned the General Convention to “repeal CANON I.17.7 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church …, which states: ‘No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.’”

While the proposal never made it out of committee for the consideration of either of the convention’s houses, its appearance on the legislative docket created a firestorm of controversy in print and social media in the period leading up to the meeting. 

Proponents of the measure framed repeal of the canon as a matter of justice and hospitality. Opponents worried that repealing the canon would imperil the theological, liturgical, and formational connection between the rites of baptism and eucharist.

What too often seemed to be missing from the contest between these competing goods was a spirit of charity. Those on one side of the debate frequently failed to inquire into what was felt to be at stake by those on the other, and vice versa. Little attempt was made to identify areas of possible convergence, where sincerely held commitments could be maintained while taking action that addressed the concerns of others. In the rush to take sides, many seemed to forget that we are all actually on the same side, as loyal members of the Episcopal Church and disciples of Jesus Christ.

The four participants in this panel discussion are convinced there is a lesson to be learned from this.