“World Communion Sunday”
World Communion Sunday started in 1933 to promote Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation at the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in New York. As it spread, in 1940, the Federal Council of Churches (FCC), and in 1950 when it became the National Council of Churches (NCC), endorsed and promoted the idea worldwide.
The FCC was created in 1908 as an ecumenical organization as a faith community’s response to the “industrial problem” that arose during the rapid industrialization period. The primary concern was protecting workers and advocating for fair wages, safe working conditions, an end to child labor, and a six-day work week (reduced from seven).
At its inception, FCC adopted “The Social Creed of the Churches,” which spelled out biblical principles the faith communities believed were inherent rights of all workers. It included:
· Equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life
· Protection of the worker from dangerous machinery, occupational diseases, injuries, and mortality
· Abolition of child labor
· Regulation of the conditions of toil for women shall safeguard the physical and moral health of the community
· A living wage as a minimum in every industry
· Provision for the old age of the workers and those incapacitated by injury
· Abatement of property
The original values were approved as FCC became NCC. In the new era of globalization, the NCC in 2007 updated its social creed with a goal to “offer a vision of a society that shared more and consumes less, seeks compassion over suspicion and equality over domination, and finds security in joined hands rather than massed arms.” The Social Creed of the 21st century included the following principles:
· System of criminal rehabilitation based on restorative justice and an end to the death penalty
· Limits on the power of private interests in politics
· Just immigration policies
· Sustainable use of earth’s resources
· Nuclear disarmament and redirection of military spending
· Religious dialogue
· Strengthening multilateral diplomacy, United Nations, and the rule of international law
When we celebrate World Communion Sunday and celebrate Jesus with Christians around the world, we are stating that we uphold the values of NCC. As we look at why the FCC was created more than a century ago, we can see that the fight for human dignity has not changed. So, when celebrating communion with believers around the globe on Sunday, let us remember why the churches came together in the first place.