Altars and Communion Tables 

The night before he was crucified, Jesus shared a Passover meal with his friends.

He took a piece of bread and said, "This is my body, broken for you."

Then he took the wine and said, "This is my blood, shed for you." 


St Paul's Church, Daybrook, Nottingham

The altar - or communion table - is where the bread and wine are put when the church remembers this meal and what Jesus said.

Members of the church come to the table or altar. They eat a small piece of bread and take a sip of wine.

This may be called:
Holy Communion,
      or the Eucharist, 
             or Mass, 
depending on the type of church (denomination).

This altar is in a new church 'planted' by an older church.

St Timothy's, Nottingham

The letters on the altar cloth are not i h c, but Greek letters:
 They are the first three letters of
JESUS in Greek.
Sometimes you see them as capital letters like this:

Above this altar is a picture of the Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples. This is based on 'The Last Supper,' a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Some churches prefer to us a simple wooden communion table.

For the service of Holy Communion, they often cover it with a white cloth.

Ar other times it may have an open Bible on it - like this.

Daybrook Baptist Church, Nottingam

This communion table is in a Baptist Church.
- - - - - - - - - -

Here are three very different altars and communion tables.


- - - - - - - - - -

What do you think?

Why do you think some churches like very rich and ornate altars and others prefer a simple wooden table?

Which of these do you like best?

This altar frontal illustrates using the five senses during communion. Can you
work out how?

Could you create a design for an altar frontal? As a big project, a group could
actually make one!

St Paul's, Gloucester


Back to Exploring a church