The Southern Baptist Convention defines the Lord's Supper as "a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming." Communion is a symbolic but deeply meaningful act in the Southern Baptist Church. Due to its importance to believers, the denomination observes rules pertaining to its celebration to preserve its integrity.
Rev. Wes Kenney, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Valliant, Oklahoma, explains that the Southern Baptist "confession of faith unambiguously recognizes that biblical baptism is prerequisite to participation in the Lord’s Supper." Southern Baptists' view of biblical baptism entails a profession of faith and full immersion in water in the name of the Trinity. Celebrating the Lord's Supper involves commemorating Christ's death and resurrection and also communing with the whole body of Christian believers. Southern Baptists believe only those who have publicly entered this community through believer's baptism may participate in communion.
The Southern Baptists teach that sharing in the Lord's Supper "be reserved for sinners who have been born again and are pursuing a life of repentance." The denomination believes that while all are sinners in need of Christ's saving grace, it is inappropriate for unrepentant sinners to share in communion. If a person persists in publicly known, unrepentant sin, that person may not eat the Lord's Supper.
Some Southern Baptist churches require that a person be a church member prior to partaking in communion, although this is not a requirement set forth by the Southern Baptist Convention. Churches that require membership to join in the Lord's Supper may do so to stress the importance of church membership, protect the sanctity of the symbolic act, or to ensure that only Christians who have experienced believer's baptism partake, among other reasons.
The Southern Baptist Convention urges complete abstinence from alcohol use by church members and for this reason, Southern Baptist churches do not serve wine as part of communion. Churches within the denomination commonly serve juice during communion instead. Many Southern Baptists believe that imbibing alcohol for any reason impedes a person's Christian witness and thus has no place at the Lord's Supper.
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