Is it proper to pass items over or under the altar rail at church? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

My church has a long standing practice of passing the hand held microphone, books, notes, etc. from the chancelery area "under the altar", and never across the altar rail. I find no basis for this in the Book of Worship, The Discipline or certainly not the Bible. Does anyone else practice this and if so, why? We have had some awkward moments, especially when the altar rail is covered in white linen for communion. Any comments?

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000


The practices you cite are reminicient of certain etiquette rules for order of worship. According to tradition, there is suppossed to be a proper way to hold your hands before receiving the sacred elemendts at the altar before Comunion, same holds true for Love Feast, baptism and the list goes on. The problem is once we deify the objects [altar, Communion cups, etc.]we run the risk of promoting an indirect form of paganism. If the practice is of questionable Scriptual value my thinking is it should be outlawed immediately.

-- Anonymous, November 04, 2000

My, My, what a minefield you present! But let us try. Remember, last Sunday's Internation Sunday School lesson: David wanted to build a house for God; Rev. Nathan thought it an excellent idea that even God approved of; but God stepped in and redirected their thoughts. David loved God and so heloved the things of God, even the material things such as His house. His motive was good. We have traditions handed down by our fathers. As we read their writings and observe their works, we know God was with them; they loved the Lord and had right motives. Therefore, the traditions are good if they grow out of a love of God; then the things of God. If we love the Lord, we will respect His house. Does this practice show respect for God and His house? Does not holding this practice show disrespect for God and His house? I don't know to both questions. It depends upon what is in my heart as I worship the Lord.

-- Anonymous, November 04, 2000

As for crossing the altar specifically, if the altar is considered part of the pulpit area in your church, then it may be that the pastor does not want anyone to enter that area during the service.

In our church, once the pastor has entered the pulpit and consecrated the the ground in prayer he does not like for others to enter the pulpit area during the service.

I find that the problem is in educating the congregation as to the reasons for these traditions. All of the parts of the service serve a purpose. They serve the purpose of leading the people through a progression of worshipping God. The main problem is that many visitors or even members are not familar with the reason we do the things we do during the service.

Why do Methodist Churches have altar rails, but most baptist churches do not? Why do we have the call to worship and altar call? Why do methodists kneel during prayer and communion. All these traditions come from our heritage and are to exemplify a correct state of mind during our worship, but this needs to be taught to the congregation so that they don't see it as just ritual or some kind of paganistsic gesturing, but can embrace it and use it for what it is meant to be.

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2000

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