AbstractThe Episcopal Church, like many American mainline churches, is facing a compounding set of challenges that threaten its identity and missional integrity. These challenges are not new and it is possible, when placed in the larger geographic and historical context of the church
catholic, to draw upon resources that enable the Episcopal Church to weather the storm with its missional integrity intact. Chief among these resources is the church’s eucharistic practice. Even before the resurrection of Jesus, his followers gathered regularly for meals where they embodied the boundary-breaking inclusion and incorporation of the “other,” engaged teaching on the ethics of the coming kingdom of God, and practiced rituals that grounded them in their new, communal identity. After the resurrection, the followers of Jesus continued to a table-oriented ritual practice, albeit with new significance. They saw this practice as central to the ongoing participation in the saving work of Jesus, whom they believed to be present with them even as he was inviting them to eat together. While participation in the practice has ebbed and flowed throughout church history, it has remained central to the church’s engagement with the mission of God as an embodiment and participation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This project argues that as the church explores creative solutions to the challenges posed by the new apostolic age, the eucharist should remain the fixed, ritual point around which the church arranges its common life.