When Should a Young Person Start Taking Holy Supper?

On June 4, we will be offering Holy Supper at all of our worship services, including the Young Children’s Service and the Family Cathedral Service. (We will be putting out more information about what Holy Supper will look like at each of those services soon.) This decision came after meeting with regular attenders of those services. One question that came up in the conversation with people who attend the Family Cathedral service was when should a young person start taking Holy Supper?

As with many topics, there are a range of useful perspectives on it. This Pastor’s Box is not an official policy decision from Bryn Athyn Church; this is Malcolm, as one of your pastors, sharing a few passages and thoughts in response to that question. The passage that most clearly discusses age and taking Holy Supper is True Christianity 729, which says, “People who die as children (infantia) and teenagers (pueritia) and do not reach the age at which they could come forward worthily to take the Holy Supper are made a part of heaven by the Lord through their baptism instead.” This passage does not specify what age a person must be to come forward worthily to take the Holy Supper but it does imply that there is an age.

Secrets of Heaven 10225 is a good passage to read about different stages of life. It talks about the 20th year (or after a person’s 19th birthday) as the age when a person begins to think for themselves. Similarly Secrets of Heaven 2280 says that from the 20th year, a person “begins to become rational, and to have the faculty of reflecting upon good and truth, and to procure for themselves the good of intelligence.” It seems like that might correspond to taking the Holy Supper.

There is a range of opinion on whether or not it is potentially harmful for someone to take Holy Supper if they are younger than age 19. I don’t find myself with clarity about it and I think this range of opinion is partly why people aren’t sure when they can start taking Holy Supper. Setting aside the question of people younger than 19, if you are 19 or older and have not yet taken Holy Supper, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider taking it. If you have children who are 19 or older who have not yet taken Holy Supper, I would encourage you to have a conversation with them about it. Please let me know if you or someone you know would like to talk to a pastor about this. I would love to have that conversation, as would all the other pastors.

I recommend that you read the chapter from True Christianity on Holy Supper (698-730), particularly the sections toward the end of the chapter about taking the Holy Supper worthily (719-730). Find those and other resources at brynathynchurch.org/holy-supper-preparation.