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Switch to Forum Live View ELCA vs LCMS - Closed Communion
5 years ago  ::  Dec 01, 2012 - 10:14AM #1
Texasranger10000
Posts: 2
I really don't know why I'm looking for outside opinions on this. I'm not even Lutheran. But I've been to Lutheran services. The only Lutheran church I will ever set foot into is an ELCA church. Any church that believes in and/or practices the concept of 'closed communion' is not okay with me, and I hold them in contempt and disgust for denying the Lord's supper to others just because they don't fall into their faith tradition.
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5 years ago  ::  Dec 01, 2012 - 12:11PM #2
WannabeTheo
Posts: 401

I am ELCA now, but I was raised in the LCMS.  At the chuch I grew up in, one did not have to be LCMS or even Lutheran to participate in Holy Communion.  On the back of the "Guest Cards" in the pew, the requirements were listed: one should be a baptized Christian and believe in the Real Presence.  I don't know what the LCMS or WELS require now, or if all congregations follow.


I can agree I wouldn't want to belong to a church that practices closed communion, but I respect the rules of those that do.

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5 years ago  ::  Dec 01, 2012 - 7:14PM #3
teilhard
Posts: 53,304

As an ELCA Pastor (former ALC) I have always invited ALL Baptized Persons to The Altar ...

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5 years ago  ::  Dec 02, 2012 - 12:53PM #4
WannabeTheo
Posts: 401

This if from an LCMS FAQ sheet regarding Communion:


The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has never understood or applied the historic practice of close[d] Communion in such a way as to mean that only LCMS members are permitted to commune at LCMS altars. The official position of the Synod is that not only are members of other Lutheran churches with whom we are in altar and pulpit fellowship invited to commune with us, but also that in certain extraordinary cases of pastoral care and in emergencies members of churches not in fellowship with us may be given Communion. The Synod stated, for example, in 1986 "that pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod continue to abide by the practice of close Communion, which includes the necessity of exercising responsible pastoral care in extraordinary situations and circumstances" (1986 Res. 3-08 "To Maintain Practice of Close Communion").


And this from the following site:  http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=744


What he discovered is that 50.2% of the pastors in the synod actually restrict communion to those with whom we are in fellowship. And over a third (35.53%) of the pastors apparently give communion to anyone who believes in the real presence.


Unless the standards changed, I guess the church in which I grew up must have been one of the 35%.  Apparently, inviting all baptized believers to Communion is more or less unheard of in the LCMS.

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5 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2012 - 9:28AM #5
TOMinAZ
Posts: 76

I'm ELCA, but have had a few occasions to attend an LCMS congregation. Most times, I've been told about closed communion, and didn't go up. A few times, I heard nothing about it, and went up anyway. Once, I had a quick conversation with one of the pastors beforehand, and was told I was welcome to commune. I was told, with an wink of his eye, "The advantage of being rather far from St Louis."


I attended a WELS congregation out of state a few years ago. They had color coded name tags to indicate your communing status. Member, visiting WELS, non-WELS. Green, yellow, blue.  I had no tag, so they didn't know what to do with me. I didn't go up anyway. I've yet to run across another congregation that took that approach.


I can see the reason why there would be some kind of restriction. For me, the issue is more of showing respect for the sacrament. I don't commune in churches where the understanding of the meal is different than ours. I don't want to show disrespect for their doctrine.


However, to restrict a person of the same denomination simply because of the national affiliation of their congregation just demonstrates how broken the church is. When I tell non-Lutherans that I can't commune with another Lutheran "tribe", but can with the Episcopalians, it really does make us look petty.


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5 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2012 - 4:21PM #6
Sherylyn
Posts: 63

I work with campus ministry at the college in our town, and our campus ministry includes both ELCA and LCMS students (not a lot of Lutherans in our area). There is an LCMS chapel on campus, but our students don't worship there because they are not welcomed - ELCA or LCMS. Their version of close communion is that only the members of their (tiny) congregation can commune.


A few years ago, one of our LCMS students was upset that our ELCA students never went to worship at her church (she is local). They said it was because they couldn't receive communion there. She couldn't believe it, so she called her pastor immediately, and was told that no, the ELCA students could not commune in their church. Her world was rocked.


The new pastor of her congregation, however, pretty much welcomes all to the table if they believe in the real presence. While he toes the company line on other things, he figures that what St. Louis doesn't know about how he communes his congregation won't hurt them.


(He'll even participate with our ELCA pastor leads worship or prayer, but he won't concelebrate. That's the line he's unwilling to cross.)

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5 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2013 - 12:31AM #7
AFskypilot
Posts: 352

Whenever you go to a Lutheran church as a visitor, it is advizable to ask first if you will be allowed to commune.  


Every ELCA church that I go to will say all are welcome.


As has been mentioned, it depends on where an LCMS church is as to whether you can commune.  The further away from St. Louis, the more likely you can commune; but I would also have to say the youth of the pastor may also play a role.  If the guy is a recent graduate from an LCMS seminary, he may be more unwilling to commune you.  However, I have found after a few years in the ministry, they tend to mellow.


WELS churches are very strict about who they will commune.  If you are not WELS, don't even try.

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 26, 2013 - 5:13PM #8
lori-dee-3
Posts: 59

I belong to a WELS membership myself. Here we have closed communion, but if the person desiring to partake in communion who isn't a member need only to talk with the pastor before services.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 02, 2013 - 6:16PM #9
G_Erdner
Posts: 172

The official documents of the LCMS policy on closed communion are very thoughtful and well written, and make a compelling case. If you accept the idea that when Paul spoke against allowing pagans who worshipped Zeus or Jupiter and the rest of the Greek or Roman pantheon to share the Lord's table was also a reference to other Christians who had different "confessions", then it makes perfect sense. But, since the idea of different "confessions" didn't really arise for a few centuries, that argument doesn't hold much water. 


The thing is, regardless of the Biblical principles behind closed communion, in actual, everyday practice, at too many LCMS churches it just comes down to figuratively checking ID cards. 

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 19, 2014 - 12:01AM #10
Roymond
Posts: 3,779

Feb 26, 2013 -- 5:13PM, lori-dee-3 wrote:


I belong to a WELS membership myself. Here we have closed communion, but if the person desiring to partake in communion who isn't a member need only to talk with the pastor before services.




That's actually fairly close to ancient Christian practice.  And it's based on a concern taken from Paul, where he mentions that some who had partaken unworthily had even died.  Of course there's a wide area of discussion about what "unworthiliy" means, but it has been held frequently that not believing the bread and wine really are the Body and Blood qualifies.  So barring people who don't so believe is meant out of concern lest they "east and drink damnation to themselves".

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