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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Archives > 2006 Archives > September-October 2006 > There’s room at God’s table for all

Bishop Joel N. Martinez.
UMCOM photo by Mike DuBose.

World Communion Sunday is Oct. 1

There’s room at God’s table for all

Bishop Joel N. Martinez experienced the call to ministry as a teenager. With the help of the Crusade Scholars program, he followed that call at Perkins School of Theology  in Dallas.

“The Crusade Scholars program made possible my seminary education,” Martinez said. “This program is vital to our church’s future.”

The Crusade Scholarship program is funded through the special offering on World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday in October. Churches unable to celebrate World Communion Sunday on Oct. 1 this year are asked to receive the offering on another day.

Originally a Presbyterian observance, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America established World-wide Communion Sunday in 1940 as a global, interdenominational event. Prompted by the impact of World War II, the Methodist Church received an offering on this Sunday for the Fellowship of Suffering and Service.

In 1971 the United Methodist Church changed the name of the observance to World Communion Sunday and redistributed the offering to support the Crusade Scholarship Program (begun in 1944), the Ethnic Minority Scholarship Program and the Division of Chaplains and Related Ministries.

In 1980 Chaplains and Related Ministries was moved to World Service funding, but the World Communion Sunday offering continued to assist racial- and ethnic-minority students pursuing various avenues of ministry.

• Half of the offering provides Crusade Scholarships for international and U.S. racial- and ethnic-minority graduate students.

• Thirty-five percent supports Ethnic Scholarships for undergraduate students.

• Fifteen percent funds Ethnic In-Service Training Program  scholarships for racial- and ethnic-minority persons seeking second careers in church-related vocations.

A former World Methodist Council member and World Council of Churches delegate, Martinez counts ecumenical involvement as one of the richest rewards of his ministry. He advises aspiring clergy “to serve in an ecumenical spirit, open to the tradition and wisdom of your sisters and brothers in the faith.”

For more information or to order resources for use on World Communion Sunday, visit


World Communion Sunday Ideas

* Mix, knead and prepare an international bread recipe as part of the sermon, using each ingredient to symbolize membership in the body of Christ. Later, bake the loaf and serve it during a time of fellowship.

* If your church uses a video or slide projection system, show images of Christians around the world engaged in ministry and worship.

* Translate the words “bread,” “cup,” “peace,” “community” and other theological phrases into other languages. Create responsive litanies using these words.

* Use prayers from different cultures, with liturgists reading them in the original language or with a translator sharing them in English.

—Adapted from Around the World: Sharing the Bread of Life, Cup of Blessing (Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Used with permission.

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