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While the freedom and diversity of United Methodist worship are greater than can be represented by any single order of worship, United Methodists also affirm a heritage of order and the importance of the specific guidance and modeling that an order of worship provides.

This order expands upon An Order of Sunday Worship Using the Basic Pattern on pages 3-5 of The United Methodist Hymnal in showing some of the variety that is possible within the Basic Pattern of Worship. It assumes that worship leaders and congregation are to be in constant prayer. Worship is a sacred time when the people are led by the Holy Spirit to pray (Romans 8:22-26) and to worship God (1 Corinthians 14:25). Like the Basic Pattern, it is a guide to help those who plan worship see the structure and flow of our services. It is not intended that the congregation follow pages 3-5 in the hymnal while at worship. The congregation may be guided through the service by a bulletin or by announcement, whether or not Holy Communion is celebrated. This order is also the basis of the Services of Word and Table and other services in this book. It rests on the same biblical foundations as the Basic Pattern and incorporates the experience and traditions of Christians through the centuries, with particular care to include what is distinctive in our United Methodist heritage. Acts of worship that reflect racial, ethnic, regional, and local customs and heritages may be used appropriately throughout this order.

As Jesus invited children to come to him, so United Methodist worship should welcome children and youth as an integral part of the community as participants in, and leaders of, worship. Congregational worship services should include stories, songs and other music, and actions that are appropriate to children and youth of various ages and abilities.



The people come together in the Lord's name.

A church bell or bells or amplified music may call persons to worship.

The worship service begins when the people begin to gather for worship. What takes place during the Gathering includes both what the people do as they are entering the place of worship and what happens after they are seated. This should express their coming together in the name of the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. This time is both an outward and visible gathering of the people and an inward and spiritual gathering--a focusing of awareness that they are a people gathered in the presence of the God known to us through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even when a worship service immediately follows another activity such as Sunday school in the same room, and some who have been at the earlier activity simply remain seated for the worship that follows, the Gathering is a crucial part of the worship service.

While they are gathering, one or more of the following may take place:

  1. Informal greetings, conversation, and fellowship should have some appropriate place during the Gathering. This renewing of community is a part of our entrance into congregational worship and should not be discouraged.
  2. Announcements and welcoming of visitors may come either during the Gathering or at some other time early in the service, such as at the end of the Entrance. Welcoming may include a ritual of friendship using attendance registration pads or cards and inviting persons to introduce themselves to those sitting around them.
  3. Rehearsal of unfamiliar hymns and other congregational music and acts of worship may be included.
  4. Informal prayer, singing, and testimony may take place as the people are gathering, or with a group such as the worship leaders and choir gathered in a separate room.
  5. Quiet meditation and private prayer may be encouraged while organ or other instrumental or vocal music is being offered or in a separate prayer room or chapel.
  6. Organ or other instrumental or vocal music is part of the worship service, an offering by the musician(s) to God on behalf of the entire congregation, and not a mere prelude to the worship service.

The six acts suggested above for the Gathering may be combined in various ways: (1) may be encouraged before (5) and (6) begin, or before persons have entered the place of worship; (2), (3), or (4) may also precede (5) and (6); (4) may take place during (5) and (6) but in another room. None of these combinations in itself is more valid than another, but one may be far more appropriate than another, depending on the particular congregation and circumstances.

Other acts may also be appropriate during the Gathering. If candles are used, they may be lighted by acolytes. If there is to be no processional hymn, the worship leaders and choir(s) may enter and take their places.


Facing the people, the leader greets them in the Lord's name. The Greeting should be explicitly Christian, declaring that the Lord is present and empowers our worship. A collection of such greetings is found on 448-58 and in The Christian Year, 239-421.

The Greeting may be a scripture sentence, such as:

This is the day which the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (PSALM 118:24)

Or it may be a responsive act between leader and people, such as:

Leader: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: The risen Christ is with us.
People: Praise the Lord!

The choir may also sing a Christian greeting to the congregation, sometimes called the Introit, but this should not be a substitute for the greeting by the leader. See the listing of Service Music for Greeting/Call to Worship in UMH 951 and also UMBOW Hymns 174-222.

The hymn may precede or follow the Greeting. The people, having been greeted in the Lord's name, may return the greeting to God with a hymn of praise. On the other hand, where the architecture of the worship space or the nature of the occasion calls for a ceremonial entrance of choir and worship leaders, a processional hymn or entrance song should come before the Greeting, allowing the Greeting to be spoken with the leader facing the people. The rhythm of a processional hymn should be appropriate for walking and long enough for the completion of the procession. See the listing of Processionals in UMH 949-50.

This hymn is most appropriately corporate praise to God, centering on attributes and deeds of God that call forth gratitude and praise. In addition, it may express the people's greetings to one another in the Lord's name and exhortations to praise. It should normally be familiar, upbeat, and affirming. See the listings under Opening Hymns in UMH 948.

This and other hymns and songs in the service may be related to the joy of the Lord's Day, or to the day or season in the Christian year. See the listings under Christian Year in UMH 937-38.

A doxology, stanza, chorus, acclamation, or canticle may also be sung at this point, possibly repeated every Sunday, at least for a season, so that the people know it by heart. Some congregations have their own theme song, which may be sung every Sunday here or later in the service. A hymn that is a call to praise may be sung. Any of these may immediately precede an opening hymn of praise.

Doxologies (Stanzas of Praise to the Trinity) in UMH

62 All Creatures of Our God and King (last stanza)91 Canticle of Praise to God (last stanza)
682 All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night (last stanza, sung as canon)651 Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire
(last stanza sung by choir, concluding doxology by congregation)
61 Come, Thou Almighty King (last stanza)94 Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
680 Father, We Praise Thee (last stanza)95 Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
79 Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (last stanza)160 Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart (last stanza)
102 Now Thank We All Our God (last stanza)

161 Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart (last stanza; "Hosanna" sung by choir)

727 O What Their Joy and Glory Must Be (last stanza sung by choir)65 ¡Santo! ¡Santo! ¡Santo! (last stanza)
184 Of the Father's Love Begotten (last stanza)

296 Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle (last stanza)

See also in UMBOW:

Amen, Praise the Father (Hymn 178)
Doxology (Hymn 182)
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow (Hymn 180 and Hymn 185)

Opening Stanzas and Choruses in UMH

596 Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (stanza 1)317 O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing (stanza 1)
625 Come, Let Us Eat (stanza 3)184 Of the Father's Love Begotten (stanza 2)
617 I Come with Joy (stanza 1)207 Prepare the Way of the Lord
659 Jesus Our Friend and Brother

328 Surely the Presence of the Lord

661 Jesus, We Want to Meet (stanza 1)657 This Is the Day
234 O Come, All Ye Faithful (refrain)

658 This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

See also in UMBOW:
May the Warm Winds of Heaven (Hymn 198 and Hymn 200)

Acclamations in UMH

630 "Alleluia!" refrain from Become to Us the Living Bread79 Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (stanza 1)
158 "Alleluia! Amen!" from Come, Christians, Join to Sing90 "Alleluia!" refrain from Ye Watcher and Ye Holy Ones
711 "Alleluia!" refrain from For All the Saints91 Canticle of Praise to God

See also in UMBOW:
Heleluyan (Hymn 176)

Hymns in UMH Suggested as Calls to Praise

91 Canticle of Praise to God

632 Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether (may be sung by choir)

699 Come, and Let Us Sweetly Join662 Stand Up and Bless the Lord
732 Come, We That Love the Lord

See also in UMBOW:
Come! Come! Everybody Worship (Hymn 199)
Introit: Sing to the Lord a New Song (Hymn 181)

It is appropriate to stand during the singing of this hymn and remain standing for the Greeting if that follows the hymn.


Opening prayers, together with opening hymns, establish that our worship is communion with God as well as with one another. They include recognition of who we are before God by centering on the nature and gifts of God.

Here and elsewhere in the service, the posture for prayer may vary according to local custom and circumstance. The biblical tradition of standing to pray is always appropriate, especially when the people stand for praise immediately before or after the prayer. Kneeling for prayer is also appropriate, especially in confession. Praying seated and bowed is acceptable, especially if the alternative is for persons to be kept standing or kneeling for an uncomfortable length of time.

Here or elsewhere in the service, when an individual leads in prayer the Amen should be spoken or sung by the whole congregation. Sung Amens are found in UMH 897-904.

The Opening Prayer(s) may take any of several forms:

1) A prayer of the day may be a printed prayer such as one of the classic collects, or it may be an extemporaneous prayer. It may be prayed in unison or led by one person. It may be preceded or followed by silence. It may be a prayer suited to any occasion or any Lord's Day; or it may address God in the light of the theme of the day or season of the Christian year. See the collection of prayers on 459-73. A number of such prayers--some for general use and some for particular days, seasons, or occasions--are also scattered among the hymns in UMH . See also the hymns listed under Opening Prayer in UMH 951.

2) A prayer of confession and act of pardon may include the following sequence:
a) A formal or informal call to confession by the leader
b) A prayer of confession prayed in unison by the people
c) Silence
d) Words of assurance or declaration of pardon by the leader
e) A response by the people

A prayer of confession and declaration of pardon belong together; neither should be used without the other. The leader may be a lay liturgist. See the collection of prayers of confession and acts of pardon on 474-94. See also the examples printed in UMH 7-8, 12, 26-27, and 890-93 and the listing of hymns that can be sung as prayers of confession (UMH 939-40). After the Prayer of Confession there may be a sung response such as Jesus, Remember Me (UMH 488) or the refrains of Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior (UMH 351) or Just As I Am (UMH 357). After the Words of Assurance or Declaration of Pardon there may be a sung response such as the refrain of Grace Greater Than Our Sin (UMH 365). See also the Hymns of Repentance and Hymns of Pardon (UMH 351-67).

Confession and pardon may take place either at this point in the service or later, as a Response to the Proclamation of the Word. In an opening prayer of confession the people confess the sin of which they are already aware and then come to the Proclamation of the Word in the assurance of God's pardoning grace. The acknowledgment that we are sinners saved by grace is also appropriate in opening prayers of the day or litanies. Confession as a Response to the Word includes the added awareness of personal and corporate sin to which persons are led by the Proclamation of the Word.

3) If it is a litany, or responsive prayer between leader and people, the people should have a single repeated response, spoken or sung, that is simple and easily memorized, such as: Lord, have mercy. See the litany on 495. Suitable sung litany responses in UMH include:

490 Hear Us, O God484 Kyrie Eleison
488 Jesus, Remember Me485 Let Us Pray to the Lord
483 Kyrie Eleison487 This Is Our Prayer

See also in UMBOW:
Lord, Deliver Us (Hymn 195)
May This Mind Be in Us (Hymn 189 and Hymn 191)
Señor, Apiadate de Nosotros (Hymn 188)
O Lamb of God (Hymn 201)

After the Opening Prayer(s), if an act of praise is desired, one or more of the following may be spoken or sung, actively involving the whole congregation if possible:

1) Canticle of God's Glory (UMH 72, 82, or 83)

2) A psalm or other scripture song (canticle), especially the canticles indexed in UMH 935-36

3) The Gloria Patri (UMH 70 or 71) or the Glory to God on High (UMH 188, refrain only)

4) The Lord, Have Mercy (Kyrie Eleison) in threefold form (UMH 482)

5) An anthem

Choirs may sing at various points in the service, such as here, between lessons, or at the Offering. Wherever an anthem is sung, it should be appropriate to its place in the service. Anthems that give the whole congregation a familiar or easily learned part to sing are increasingly common and especially recommended. The people can become actively involved in any anthem by saying Amen at its conclusion.

Other possibilities for an act of praise at this point include a hymn, hymn stanza, chorus, doxology, or a spoken litany of praise.

If announcements and welcoming are not placed in the Gathering, they may follow the Opening Prayers and Praise.



The blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked upon the reading, preaching, hearing, and doing of the Word. An example of such a prayer is found in A Service of Word and Table I (UMH 6). The following adaptation of Psalm 19:14 may also be used:

Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

UMH 594, 597, and 602 may also be used for this purpose. This prayer may be prayed by the congregation in unison, by someone other than the preacher, or by the preacher. Another alternative is to sing a hymn or refrain such as one of the following in UMH (or others listed in UMH 951) as the Prayer for Illumination:

596 Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (esp. stanza 3)454 Open My Eyes That I May See (refrain)

393 Spirit of the Living God

599 Break Thou the Bread of Life

601 Thy Word Is a Lamp (refrain)

473 Lead Me, Lord

600 Wonderful Words of Life

544 Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song (esp. stanza 3

See also in UMBOW:
Prayer for Wisdom (Hymn 193)
Shine on Me (Hymn 205)

If the Opening Prayers are not followed by an Act of Praise, the Prayer for Illumination may be included with the Opening Prayers, or a single prayer may serve both purposes. Many traditional collects can serve this double purpose and enable the service to move directly from the Opening Prayer to the reading of the Scriptures.


Two or three scripture readings should be used. The sequence of readings may be ordered so that the sermon is immediately preceded by the primary text to be preached. The ancient and ecumenical order of these readings, however, embodied in the Revised Common Lectionary readings on 227-37, is as follows:

First Reading (usually from the Old Testament)
Second Reading (from the New Testament, but not from the Gospels)
Hymn, Song, or Alleluia
Gospel (a reading from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John)

If there are not Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel readings at each service, care should be taken that over a period of time the people hear representative readings from each.

When laypersons, including older children and youth, are chosen to read the Scriptures in the service, they should be allowed time and opportunity to prepare.

Each reading may be introduced as follows: "A reading from (or Hear the Word of God in) the book of --------, the ---- chapter, beginning with the ---- verse." Following the reading, the reader may say, "The Word of the Lord (God )," and the people may respond, Thanks be to God. Or the reader may say, "Amen," and the people respond, Amen. If desired, the congregation may then sing a scripture acclamation such as one of those listed in UMH 951.

After the first reading, a psalm or psalm portions may be sung or spoken as an Act of Praise, the people standing. See UMH 735-862 and the lectionary for suggested psalms on UMBOW 227-37. An anthem based on the psalm is also appropriate.

Before the final reading, a hymn or song related to the scriptures of the day, or an alleluia, may be sung.

Because in the reading of the four Gospels we are addressed by the words of Christ and experience this as an encounter with the living Christ, many Christians prefer to stand and greet Christ with an Alleluia! except during Lent (see UMH 78, 186, 486, and the other alleluias suggested under "Acclamations" on 19) and remain standing for the reading of the Gospel as an act of respect for the Christ who is addressing us.


One or more of the scripture readings is interpreted and proclaimed.

Children, youth, and adults should hear and respond to the Proclamation of the Word. The sermon should communicate effectively with as wide a range of ages and stages of faith development as possible. If necessary, sharing the Word with children may be placed earlier in the service as a response to the reading of one of the scripture lessons. This sharing should focus on the Word of the day and be in styles appropriate to the developmental levels of the children present. Specific and concrete stories and narratives are especially encouraged.


This should include an Invitation to Christian Discipleship, followed by a hymn of invitation (UMH 337-50); or by a baptismal, confirmation, or reaffirmation hymn (UMH 604-11); or by one of the hymns listed under Commitment in UMH 939; or by another hymn that is an appropriate response to the sermon. Responses may also include:

1) A first commitment to Christ, which may be followed if appropriate by enrollment in a preparatory group for baptism or confirmation

2) Reaffirmation of Faith (see UMBOW 86-94, 106-10, or 588-89)

3) Appropriate portions of the Baptismal Covenant:

a) Holy Baptism

b) Confirmation

c) Congregational reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant

d) Reception into The United Methodist Church of those not already United Methodists

e) Reception into the Local Congregation

4) Installation and recognition services for church officers, workers, or groups (see 593-605)

5) Other acts of worship such as services of healing that are appropriate responses to the Proclamation of the Word (see UMBOW 585-90, 613-29)

6) Consecration or dedication services relating to the church building or its furnishings (see UMBOW 606-07, 610-12, 630-51)

7) Congregational or individual commitment to specific actions such as missions (see UMBOW 591-92) or reconciliation

8) A time of silent reflection or spoken expressions from the congregation

9) The Apostles' Creed or another creed (see UMH 880-89), except when already used in the Baptismal Covenant

We Believe in One True God (UMH 85) may be sung as a creed, or one of the following in the UMH may be sung as a response to the creed:
177 He Is Lord 98 To God Be the Glory
99 My Tribute


Joys and concerns to be included in the prayers may be expressed. Prayer may take one or more of these forms:

1) Brief intercessions, petitions, and thanksgivings may be prayed by the leader or by members of the congregation. Each of these prayers may be followed by a common response, such as Lord, hear our prayer, spoken or sung by all, or one of the following from UMH :

490 Hear Us, O God485 Let Us Pray to the Lord
488 Jesus, Remember Me487 This Is Our Prayer

2) A litany of intercession and petition (see UMBOW 495).

3) A bidding prayer or prayer of petition (see UMBOW 497-530). This may also include blessings for persons (see UMBOW 531-48) and prayers for special Sundays or days on the secular and denominational calendar (see UMBOW 422-44).

4) Pastoral prayer, in which the pastor composes and offers a prayer gathering up the concerns of the church and of the world. The congregation's participation in the prayer is expressed by the unison sung or spoken Amen at the end of the prayer. So that the people may know when to sing or speak their Amen, the pastor may regularly end the prayer with words such as, "through (in the name of ) Jesus Christ our Lord."

Prior to the prayers, prayer concerns or requests may be gathered from the congregation orally or in writing.

The choir or congregation may sing an invitation to prayer such as one of those listed in UMH 951-52. See also in UMBOW: Call to Prayer (Hymn 196); Jesus, We Are Praying (Hymn 192); Where Two or Three Are Gathered (Hymn 202).

The congregation may sing Amen (see UMH 897-904), or a prayer response such as one of those listed in UMH 952, Heleluyan (UMH 78), or Remember Me (UMH 491).

During this time persons may be invited to kneel at the communion rail.

Congregations that do not wish to place the Concerns and Prayers and the Offering after the Proclamation of the Word may place them at the Opening Prayers and Praise in the service. The Opening Prayers may be expanded to include the Concerns and Prayers, with the Offering following, accompanied by an act of praise or by an organ or other instrumental voluntary.


See the discussion of confession and pardon on 20-21 for an explanation of this act of worship, with musical suggestions. The following is a sample of the kind of confession-pardon sequence used here or during the Entrance:

Let us confess our sin against God and our neighbors.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your name. Amen.

All offer prayers of confession in silence.

Almighty God have mercy on you,
forgive all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ,
strengthen you in all goodness,
and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

The people may offer one another signs of reconciliation and love, particularly when Holy Communion is celebrated. The Peace is an act of reconciliation and blessing, based on New Testament Christian practice (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14). Its placement immediately before the Offering recalls Matthew 5:23-24. It is not simply our peace but the peace of Christ that we offer. The gestures and words used may vary widely, depending on the temperament and customs of the people and the nature of the occasion. For example, one may clasp another's hand and say, "The peace of Christ be with you," and the other respond, "And also with you." The Peace is not to be confused with the ritual of friendship or welcoming of visitors. If the Confession and Pardon are placed earlier in the service, the Peace may still be observed at this time in the service.

The choir may lead one of the following from UMH during the Peace or at its conclusion:

620 One Bread, One Body 667 Shalom Chaverim
666 Shalom to You


An offering may include

1) Monetary gifts or products of labor

2) Other appropriate gifts, such as memorial gifts or other items to be dedicated

3) The bread and cup, brought by representatives of the people to the Lord's table with the other gifts, or uncovered if already in place, if Holy Communion is to follow

As the gifts are received and presented, there may also be offered:

1) A hymn--if Holy Communion is to follow, a hymn of invitation may be sung, such as one of these in UMH :

621 Be Present at Our Table, Lord

616 Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast (stanza 1)

319 Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands (stanza 4, sung by choir)510 Come, Ye Disconsolate
618 Let Us Break Bread Together
699 Come, and Let Us Sweetly Join383 This Is a Day of New Beginnings (stanza 5)
625 Come, Let Us Eat (stanzas 1, 2)

164 Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life (stanza 2)

2) A psalm

3) An anthem

4) Instrumental music

5) A doxology or other musical response (see listings under Doxology and Offering in UMH 951-52 and above), especially the following in UMH :

588 All Things Come of Thee

640 Take Our Bread (refrain, communion)

621 Be Present at Our Table, Lord (communion)87 What Gift Can We Bring
587 Bless Thou the Gifts

See also in UMBOW:
Offertory Hymn: For the Gift of Creation (Hymn 179)



The following or other Prayer of Thanksgiving (see 550-55) is prayed after the presentation of the gifts:

All things come from you, O God,
and with praise and thanksgiving we return to you what is yours.
You created all that is, and with love formed us in your image.
When our love failed, your love remained steadfast.
You gave your only Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior,
that we might have abundant and eternal life.
All that we are, and all that we have, is a trust from you.
And so, in gratitude for all that you have done,
we offer you ourselves, and all that we have,
in union with Christ's offering for us.
By your Holy Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other,
and one in ministry to all the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


All pray the Lord's Prayer, using one of the forms in UMH 270-71, 894-96.

A time of silence may follow the Lord's Prayer.

If Holy Communion is not celebrated, the service concludes with the Sending Forth. See 31-32.



This is the first of the four actions of Holy Communion, based on the actions of Jesus in the upper room.

The pastor, standing behind the Lord's table, takes the bread and cup, which have been placed on the Lord's table, and prepares them for the meal. If an altar table is fixed against the wall, the pastor may stand beside it, or a freestanding Lord's table may be placed in front of it. It is traditional that there be a white linen cloth covering the top of the Lord's table under the bread and cup; but this should not be confused with the paraments that hang down from the top of the Lord's table and show the color of the day or season. See the suggestions for colors on UMBOW 226. It is also traditional that the bread and cup have been covered by a white linen napkin, or by a white linen-covered card over the cup, or by metal tray lids.

The bread may be either leavened or unleavened. The use of a large uncut loaf of bread, which later in the service is broken and distributed to the people, follows the practice reported by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 and symbolizes the fact that the Church is one body in Christ. This loaf may be baked by a member of the congregation. Pita bread is especially suited for use when the people commune by intinction (dipping the bread into the chalice). If the loaf is still wrapped or covered, the pastor should unwrap or uncover it before proceeding with the Great Thanksgiving but should not cut or break the bread. If wafers or bread cubes are used, the pastor should remove the lid(s) or covering.

A large cup, commonly called the chalice, is also a symbol of unity in Christ. If the cup has not already been filled, the pastor should fill it at this time. If individual cups are used, the pastor should remove the lid(s) or covering at this time. Although the historic and ecumenical Christian practice has been to use wine, the use of unfermented grape juice by The United Methodist Church and its predecessors since the late nineteenth century expresses pastoral concern for recovering alcoholics, enables the participation of children and youth, and supports the church's witness of abstinence.


As Jesus gave thanks over (blessed) the bread and cup, so do the pastor and people. This prayer is led by the pastor appointed to that congregation and authorized by the bishop to administer the Sacraments there, or by some other ordained elder. If neither the pastor nor any other ordained person is present, a Love Feast (see 581-83) rather than Holy Communion should be celebrated. The pastor stands behind the Lord's table, the people also standing. After an introductory dialogue between pastor and people, the pastor gives thanks appropriate to the occasion, remembering God's acts of salvation and the institution of the Lord's Supper, and invokes the present work of the Holy Spirit, concluding with praise to the Trinity. The people's responses of adoration and acclamation are interspersed, and the prayer concludes with the people's Amen. See the Great Thanksgivings in A Service of Word and Table I-IV and on UMBOW 54-80. The people's responses may be sung, using the musical settings in UMH 17-25.


All pray the Lord's Prayer, using one of the forms in UMH 270-71, 894-96. This forms a bridge between the first of the pair of actions in Holy Communion (Thanksgiving) and the second (Communion). It is both the sublime climax of our thanksgiving to God and the verbal entrance into a communion with God that is holy beyond words.

The people may be called to pray the Lord's Prayer with this invitation: "And now, with the confidence of children of God, let us pray: ...."


The third of the four actions of Holy Communion, like the first, is brief and preliminary to the act that immediately follows. It is a sequence of gestures inviting the people to come to the meal. The pastor, still standing behind the Lord's table, lifts the unbroken and uncut loaf of bread in full view of the people and breaks it by hand, in silence or with appropriate words. If individual wafers or cubes of bread are used, one of the wafers (preferably a larger wafer) or a large piece of the bread from which the cubes have been cut should be broken. The pastor then raises the cup, or one of the cups, in silence or with appropriate words. See 39 for appropriate words to accompany these actions.

Following Breaking the Bread, the pastor may now announce that the table is ready and that people may come to be served, using a sentence such as, "Come, the table is ready."


In the fourth and last action of Holy Communion, the bread and cup are given to the people as Jesus gave them to the disciples. Laypersons as well as other clergy may assist the pastor in giving the bread and cup. All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup. We have no tradition of refusing any who present themselves desiring to receive. Any or all of the people may receive them while standing, kneeling, or seated. It is our custom to serve each person individually, while exchanging these or other words:

[Name, ] the body of Christ, given for you. Amen.
[Name, ] the blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.


The body of Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation. Amen.


Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
Jesus Christ, the cup of salvation. Amen.

Every effort should be made to make each person, and especially children, welcome at the table. It is particularly effective to look directly at the person being addressed, touch each person's hand while giving the bread and cup, and if possible call each person by name.

Serving one another acts out our faith that Christ is the giver of this holy meal and that we are receivers of Christ's grace. It is traditional that the pastor receive the bread and cup first and then serve those who are assisting in the giving of the bread and cup; but, if desired, the pastor and those assisting may receive last. One of those assisting may serve the pastor.

The congregation may sing hymns while the bread and cup are given. In addition to hymns UMH 612-41 and others listed under UMH 641 and in the index under Holy Communion (UMH 943), many other hymns in UMH are suitable in effectively expressing the people's loving communion with God and with one another. The day or season of the Christian year and the people's knowledge and love of particular hymns are important considerations in the selection of appropriate hymns. It is particularly effective if the people can sing from memory. Sometimes it is effective to sing and repeat a chorus such as Jesus, Remember Me (UMH 488), Remember Me (UMH 491), the refrain One Bread, One Body (UMH 620), or the alternate refrain For the Beauty of the Earth (UMH 92).

After the people have been served, the Lord's table is set in order.

What is done with the remaining bread and wine should express our stewardship of God's gifts and our respect for the holy purpose they have served.

1) They may be set aside for distribution to the sick and others wishing to commune but unable to attend. See A Service of Word and Table V on UMBOW 51-53.

2) They may be reverently consumed by the pastor and others while the table is being set in order or following the service.

3) They may be returned to the earth; that is, the bread may be buried or scattered on the ground, and the wine may be reverently poured out upon the ground--a biblical gesture of worship (2 Samuel 23:16) and an ecological symbol today.

A brief prayer of thanksgiving, prayed by the pastor or in unison, may conclude the giving of the bread and cup after the people have been served (see UMBOW 39, 53). Sometimes the closing hymn can serve this purpose. The earlier stanzas of some hymns may be sung while the people are being served, the final stanza(s) being sung after the people have been served (as indicated below). The following hymns and stanzas in UMH are suggested:

625 Come, Let Us Eat (last stanza)

615 For the Bread Which You Have Broken

632 Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether (last stanza)623 Here, O My Lord (stanzas 4, 5)
617 I Come with Joy (stanzas 3-5)
563 Father, We Thank You (may be sung by choir with handbells)634 Now Let Us from This Table Rise

102 Now Thank We All Our God

565 Father, We Thank You84 Thank You, Lord
614 For the Bread Which You Have Broken629 You Satisfy the Hungry Heart (last stanza)



Whether or not Holy Communion has been celebrated, the service concludes with a series of acts in which the congregation stands and is sent forth to active ministry in the world.

The final hymn or song of sending forth may be an entire hymn or simply one or more stanzas. It may be:

1) A hymn of thanksgiving and praise or a doxology

2) Consecration to service in the world

3) A recessional

4) A hymn of thanksgiving following Holy Communion (see list above)

5) A favorite hymn or theme song, sung every week

See the listings under Closing Hymns (UMH 939), Discipleship and Service (UMH 940), and Doxology (UMH 951) and the listing of doxologies above. If a particular hymn of sending forth is desired to be sung every week, the following in UMH are suggested:

376 Dona Nobis Pacem671 Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing
665 Go Now in Peace664 Sent Forth by God's Blessing
672 God Be with You till We Meet Again666 Shalom to You
673 God Be with You till We Meet Again667 Shalom
668 Let Us Now Depart in Thy Peace84 Thank You, Lord

See also in UMBOW:
An Indian Blessing (Hymn 186)
Benediction (Hymn 190)
Shawnee Traveling Song (Hymn 197)

The Dismissal with Blessing, often called the Benediction, is given by the pastor, facing the people. It is addressed to the people, not to God, and the pastor and people appropriately look at each other as it is given. For this reason, it should be given from the front, not the back, of the sanctuary. See UMBOW 39, 151, 157, 559-66.

If the closing hymn or song is a recessional in which the pastor joins, it should follow the Dismissal with Blessing; otherwise it should precede the Dismissal with Blessing.


Like the Gathering, the Going Forth is an act of corporate worship as long as people are still with other people in the place of worship. One or more of the following may be included:

1) Organ or other instrumental voluntary, during which the people are free to go forth, remain standing quietly in place listening, or sit down to listen

2) Silence before the congregation disperses

3) Extinguishing of candles and carrying out of the light (to symbolize the light of Christ leading us out into the world), if this was not done during the recessional

4) Informal greetings, conversation, and fellowship

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“An Order of Worship Using the Basic Pattern” Copyright © 1985, 1989, 1992 by UMPH. Used by permission.