Why do many United Methodists use grape juice instead of wine?
Many United Methodist churches were deeply involved in the Temperance Movement. Grape juice was originally invented by Thomas Welch, a Methodist, so Methodists and others would not need to use wine for communion. Today, United Methodists continue to use grape juice in communion out of concern for people who may have problems with alcohol.
Does the bread at Holy Communion need to be unleavened?
Either leavened (in witness to the resurrection) or unleavened (in witness to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit) may be used.
If I cannot eat wheat, may I still receive communion?
Yes. We always provide gluten free alternatives. Let your server know if you prefer this.
When should the bread be broken?
The bread is broken after the conclusion of the Great Thanksgiving, typically right after the Lord's Prayer. We do not break the bread to remember the words or re-enact the actions of Jesus. We break the bread because after we have completed our prayer of Thanksgiving and the Spirit has been poured out upon it and upon us, now we are ready to start giving it to others. What the pastor does in the "breaking" is to start the whole process of breaking that enables all present to receive.
Do I have to kneel to receive?
Often we kneel at the rail near the Lord's Table, and some come and stand rather than kneel. If you are unable to come forward, someone will bring you the blessed elements where you sit.
How may I receive?
The key word is that you receive rather than take the elements. They are given to you by servers. When you receive the bread, you may want to hold your hands out, with your left hand cupping and supporting your right hand. The server will say something to you about the bread as it is given to you. Before you eat it or hold it to proceed to the cup, you may say "Amen" or "Thanks be to God." When the cup is offered to you, the server will say some words to you about the cup. You may respond "Amen" or "Thanks be to God" and then either dip the bread into the cup (but not your fingers!).
Who May Preside?
In The United Methodist Church, a clergyperson presides at the Lord's table. Usually, this is the appointed pastor of that local church. Laypersons are not authorized to preside, but we encourage people to assist in serving. It is a holy moment and often awe-filled to serve others in this way.