Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
Synthetic Collections :

Documents of Synod:
Studies of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod
(1965 to 1982)


[148th General Synod Minutes, 24 June 1970, pp. 136-138; Documents of Synod, pp. 312-314.]

Mr. Malkus presented the report of the Special Committee on Admission of Children to the Lord's Supper. It was moved and seconded that the report be received with thanks as the statement of this Synod on the matter. A substitute was moved and seconded, that we send this report to Presbyteries and Sessions for their study and guidance. Motion carried. The main motion, as substitute for, carried.


In answer to Overture 16, presented by the Rocky Mountain Presbytery to the 147th General Synod, the committee essentially concurs with the report and recommendation of the Bills and Overtures Committee of that Synod and the "Committee on Admission to Communion" which reported to the 27th General Synod of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The substance of that report appears below, with emendations.

Specifically in view is the question: "If a child of the covenant fails to unite with the church, on what basis should he be admitted to the communion?"

There was basic agreement pertaining to communion: 1.) that there should be presumptive evidence of faith in Christ on the part of any participant, and 2.) that communion is not open to those known to live a scandalous life or to hold heterodox doctrine.

It was concluded: 1.) that an invitation should be given to visiting Christians to participate, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 11:28, ". . . let a man examine himself"; 2.) that care should be taken to exclude those of known scandalous life or heterodox doctrine; 3.) that a regular program of catechetical instruction should be offered in the local church to prepare the young for communion; and 4.) that, otherwise, admission to the Lord's Supper should be at the discretion of the session.

Concerning the admission to full communion of persons baptized in infancy, we refer attention to Chapter X of our Guide to Worship (April, 1955):

"1. Children, born within the pale of the visible church, and acknowledged as numbered among the Lord's people in baptism, are under the care and government of the Church. They are to be taught to read and repeat the Catechism, the Apostle's Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. They should be taught God's way of salvation through faith in Christ, and should be urged to accept Him as their personal Saviour and to yield to Him a full obedience. When they come to the years of discretion, if they be free from any serious misdemeanor, have a serious interest in spiritual things, and have sufficient knowledge to discern the Lord's body, they should be informed that it is their duty and privilege to come to the Lord's Supper.

2. Since the age of discretion in young Christians cannot be definitely set, this matter is left for the session to decide in each case.

3. When persons baptized in infancy are to be received to full communion with the church, they shall be examined by the session as to their knowledge and Christian experience, and shall make a public profession of their faith before the congregation.

It was felt by the committee that communicants should be advised that their children should not partake of communion, even though personally professing faith in Christ, unless they have received instruction from either pastor and session or parents on the significance of the Lord's Supper. The committee was in agreement that the usual way for a child to be admitted to the Lord's Supper is by uniting with the church, since qualifications for this are identical with those admitting one to the Lord's Supper. Full communicant membership in a local church should be urged upon all believers since they are instructed to obey and to be in submission to those who rule over them (Hebrews 13:17); since water baptism, commanded of all those who trust Christ (those baptized in infancy claiming that baptism as their own at the profession of personal faith), is the initiatory rite by which one enters the visible church; and since the New Testament church was organized under officers elected by those who were a recognized part of the local assembly.

However, the committee believes that to require, absolutely, that one hold membership in a local church before one can be admitted to communion is to go beyond what is required, clearly, in the Scriptures. Therefore, we would suggest that, in exceptional cases, the local session may make arrangements for admission to communion even when church membership may not be feasible. Under no circumstances should a child of the covenant partake of communion until he has made a profession of faith before the session of a local church and has been examined as to his knowledge of the meaning of this sacrament. Neither communion nor church membership, as such, should be over-emphasized, but stress should be laid on saving faith in Jesus Christ as the way to membership in the spiritual Body of Christ and to genuine communion with the Lord.

Respectfully submitted,

Nelson K. Malkus (chairman)
William B. Leonard, Jr.
Robert B. Brown
George Miladin
William McColley

Back to the Table of Contents of Documents of Synod

┬ęPCA Historical Center, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO, 2018. All Rights Reserved.