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Communion Tokens

Beginning in the 16th Century, Scottish Presbyterian churches began using communion tokens. Before the celebration of communion, church's elders would visit each member and examine his or her knowledge of the faith. Those meeting elders' approval were given a small lead (or other metal) token which permitted them to receive communion. These tokens often would list the church, a year and the minister's initials.

The use of such tokens continued when American Presbyterian churches were created. By the early 20th Century, use of such tokens ceased as clergy and elders viewed communion as a means of grace, as opposed to a reward for knowledge and good behavior.

Communion Tokens (Online Links)
Communion Tokens of the Established Church of Scotland, by Alexander J. S. Brooks, FSA. Edinburgh: Neill & Co., LTD, 1908. Courtesy of Google Digital Books


Bibliography/Additional Sources (not online)
Communion Tokens: Their History and Use, With a Treatise on the Relation of the Sacrament to the Vitality and Revivals of the Church. Mary McWhorter Tenney. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1936.

Communion Tokens of the United States of America. Autence A. Bason, Greensboro N.C.

Scottish communion tokens (above left to right):
1827 Errol Church of Scotland (Table 5), Perthshire, Scotland. Minister: Rev. Dr. James Grierson (years of service: 1819 - 1843). Source: Burzinski 2458 (for Table 5), Cresswell 2173
1765 Kemback Church of Scotland, in Fifeshire, Scotland. Minister: Alexander Walker (years of service: March 1736 - 1780). Source: Burzinski 3954, Cresswell 3494.
1802 Associate Congregation Church, Glasgow, Scotland. Minister: Rev. Dr. Robert Muter (years of service: 1800 - 1842). Source: Burzinski 2846, Cresswell 2528.

Lester Burzinski. Communion Tokens of the World. 1999.
O. D. Cresswell. Comprehensive Directory of World Communion Tokens. 1985.

 

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