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Can online Communion be a substitute for the real thing?
Scott Thumma, a sociologist of religion at Hartford Seminary, said that none of the 80-some churches that he has studied that offer online services also offer virtual Communion.
"In many ways this is a parallel discussion to the earlier debate about whether online community is 'real' community," Thumma said.
LifeChurch.tv, one of the most innovative online churches in the country, included a blog post in 2010 illustrating how to prepare for online Communion by having elements, such as bread or a cracker and wine or Kool-Aid, on hand. A spokeswoman said that the church currently does online Communion at periodic gatherings for online volunteers rather than as a weekly practice.
Eventually the Methodists' debate on online Communion could be presented before the General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body, in 2016 in Portland, Ore.