Communion is the highlight of worship for the majority of Disciples congregations. The same holds true for worship at the General Assembly. The General Assembly Communion Table was designed for flexibility and simplicity, bringing attention to the elements placed upon its surface: the body and blood of Christ – a focus to our time together in worship.
Diversity in Substance
The Table is composed of wood, metal and glass – a harmony of materials to demonstrate the beauty of diversity we have in Christ. The frame is lightweight black anodized aluminum with walnut wood trim. Within the frames are removable glass panels, acid-frosted with the Chalice logo. The tabletop is solid walnut with a Bubinga (African rosewood) veneer.
Flexibility in Form
Engineered to be portable and flexible for the space in which it will preside, the Table can be configured in several different ways. The supporting panels are connected by half-barrel hinges, allowing the table base to be configured in various ways using all eight panels or as little as four panels. The largest setup creates a 7-foot round table. Other configurations include a 7 foot rectangle, 6-foot oval, 6 foot half-round or 4-foot square. The glass within the panels can also be easily replaced with custom glasswork, acrylic, or other artful medium, allowing the table to reflect the theme of worship.
Transporting a 7-foot round table poses a difficult task. The Table was designed to break down and store into a custom crate that protects the individual components during transportation and storage. The crate also helps to prevent sudden changes in temperature and humidity, dust, and light, ensuring its use for several General Assemblies as well as other events.
Designed and Created by Disciples
Chris Higgins, former director of digital media and General Assembly production in the Office of the General Minister and President, first proposed and drafted the concept of the modular-designed table. The final design/engineering and construction was by Mark Whitley of Smiths Grove, Kentucky. You can see Mark’s work at mwhitley.com.
The collaboration began when the OGMP staff tried to address the need for an actual communion table for General Assembly. Typical tables are for smaller spaces and are not designed to easily be shipped and transported. The Assembly needed something that would be visible in a large space but relatively easy to transport without being damaged.
Chris created a concept design and asked Mark, who created the table featured during the 2009 and 2011 General Assemblies, to see if it was possible to merge flexibility, function, and beauty into a single piece. Mark engineered and constructed the table in his workshop over the course of several weeks. The final product was a table that that embodies diversity in shape and material while still bringing focus to the sacred act of communion – demonstrated and practiced in worship services across the globe.