SBC Denominational Official Refuses Communion in Jerusalem

“Later on the same preacher was in Jerusalem, and preached in the upper room of a mission. That night it was proposed that all present should observe the Lord’s Supper. The Baptist preacher sat down with the others in the room, but when the supper was to be observed, he took no part. Later on in the hotel a gentleman said to him: ‘I was surprised at your conduct tonight. I thought that here in Jerusalem you certainly would have communion with the others.’ The Baptist preacher answered: ‘We believe that Christ gave the ordinance to commemorate his broken body and spilt blood, and that when we take part we do so in remembrance of him. We take it not to show our love to each other. We do this every day. He gave it to his church, a band of believers who have obeyed him in baptism, and who are to keep his ordinances.’ Then, turning to the man, he said: ‘Do you suppose that here in Jerusalem, where my Lord died, I would do something I would not do in America, simply to please some who are traveling with me? What we hold we hold as a matter of principle to honor our Lord, and not to honor men.’ These two little incidents set forth the position of Baptists in the world.” Pages 86-87

(The above story is about Robert J. Willingham, Corresponding Secretary of Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1893-1914. The story is from the book “The Baptist Message,” published by the Sunday School Board of the SBC in 1911. This demonstrates that in the early twentieth century, virtually all Southern Baptist pastors and denominational leaders believed the Lord’s Supper was a local church ordinance.)