Missouri Synod "closed Communion"???

Can anyone give me the background on the Missouri Synod “closed Communion”, especially as it would relate to ours? The Missouri Synod is not very popular around my parts and we have a new one opening. Thanks in advance!

Missouri Synod practices what is called “close” communion. Our belief is similar to that of the Catholic Church that communion also means a unity of doctrine and belief. That said, the local parish pastor and elders have some flexibility to allow others to commune under certain circumstances. For example, when I moved to the area I now live, I was ELCA. After consultation with the pastor, my wife and I were allowed to commune. Additionally, we became members of our LCMS parish by transfer of membership.

Hope that helps.


Wisconsin Synod (WELS) also has closed communion.

I believe policies of closed Communion were once much more common among Protestant denominations than they are today.

Although many protestant churches today may be viewed as being a little more relaxed on closed communion, I think that is a generalization. More specifically it may apply to nondenominational, non-liturgical, and non-Sacramental protestant churches. But, having been an active LCMS member for 57 years before my conversion to, which is a very liturgical and sacramental denomination, I believe one would be extremely hard pressed to find a LCMS church that would welcome non Lutherans to communion. I agree, there may be some flexibility with other branches of the Lutherans, but even so, my experience tells me doing so would not be broadcast, and would cause quite a stir in the very conservative LCMS.

I, out of respect for their beliefs, would not (as a Catholic) even ask to receive communion at an LCMS church, just as I would not think it appropriate for a non-Catholic to receive the blessed sacrament at my parish.

Although, how do you tell what denomination someone is who is receiving communion. In a Catholic Church, its easy…you see it a lot on Easter and Christmas, when there are visitors to the parish…the tip off is the exchange between the Priest and the person receiving the Eucharist. If, when father says, “The body (or blood) of Christ,” and the answer is not, “Amen,” but, “Thank you, Father,” you can bet the visitor not only does not know of our reverence of the Sacrament, but is also not a Catholic.

Whenever I invite non-Catholic friends to Mass, I explain the sanctity of the sacrament, in a way that does not make them feel they are being arbitrarily excluded. Instead I keep it positive, because it is an excellent moment for catechesis…Hopefully all parishes welcome visitors to come before the table of the Lord in solidarity, to receive a blessing from the priest or Eucharistic Minister, even if they are not able to join in full communion with the Church.


See links below from wikipedia



Basically, all it means is that if you don’t belong to a denomination/church you can’t receive communion there, which really makes sense.

Wikipedia does not seem to give the total proper Catholic perspective, which is that if you don’t believe what Catholics believe (mainly in the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist) it would be sacrilegious to offer the Body of Our Lord to non-believers.

I posted this on another board yesterday. A friend is Methodist and was surprised when I said I wouldn’t even think of taking communion in a Protestant Church. She asked, “Why not?” I said, “Because I’m not Prostestant.” She said all are welcome at her church. I asked what denomination she is and she replied Methodist.

I don’t know why Protestants get all upset with Catholics not inviting all to “the Lord’s supper” when they obviously do same to each other.

I also asked if Protestants all believe that communion is just something done in memory of Christ and not His Real Body and Blood. She said yes but I don’t think that is true.

I think the reason many protestants feel that it is insulting is they don’t understand the ***why ***of it. Instead of seeing us as protecting them from a potential spiritual error, they see it as us saying “You aren’t good enough” to do this. They don’t realize that the Eucharist is dangerous in a way, because they do see it as just a ‘memorial’ and a symbol, not the real body and blood of Christ. I myself used to be offended when I wasn’t allowed to take communion there, but could go across the street to the Methodist church and participate. After I began to study the why of it, I began to see that verse in the bible in a whole new light.

[bibledrb]1 Corinthians 11:27[/bibledrb]

Way to go. You just gave the secret password away. :eek:

The statement about Close(d) Communion on Page 4 of this document from the LCMS website might be of some help:


Are only LCMS members able to commune at an LCMS church?

Q: Being raised in the LCMS, I was surprised today when I was visiting a LCMS church that had a pamphlet explaining their beliefs about Communion. It went on to say that if the visitor believed these things also then they could commune at that church. I thought that only LCMS members could commune at LCMS churches. Has this changed?

A: 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”).

(emphasis added)

Essentially, Close(d) Communion in the LCMS doesn’t mean that only LCMS members may commune at an LCMS congregation, but also those who are communicant members with church bodies in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS. Pastors have the freedom to exercise due pastoral care with regards to Communion in rare or emergency situations.

Under what circumstances would the pastors exercise closed communion? How often is that done?

Example: a Baptist is a guest in our midst. He asks the pastor if he may commune. Based on a baptist’s misunderstanding regarding the real presence, he would be politely asked not to commune, in large measure because we believe, as Paul teaches, that one who doesn’t discern the truly present body and blood could very well be eating and drinking condemnation on himself.


Same as Catholics. Thanks. Don’t know why my Methodist friend didn’t know this.

Would you receive in a Catholic Church? Without telling the priest. The priest wouldn’t allow it.

I would not receive in a Catholic Church, for two reasons.

  1. Out of respect for your communion, plain and simply, as you request that I not do so. If I am a guest in your house, would I not obey your requests on which rooms I am invited into? Of course.
  2. Out of respect for my communion, as we recognize 2 things, the authenticity and validity of your Eucharist as well as ours, and yet the current, sad disagreement between us in doctrine.
    Pray for the day that the Holy Spirit heals the wounds of division in His Church Militant.



Agree and I do pray. What a wonderful day that will be!:thumbsup::gopray2:

Our church bulletin states:
GUEST and HOLY COMMUNION… A prerequisite to communing at this altar is to have been instructed and to confess the doctrines to which this congregration adheres as a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Guests who - prior to the service - inform a pastor of the sister-congregration of which they are communicant members, may be invited to commune.

Guests who are not communicants of congregrations in communion fellowship with the LC-MS are asked to remain in the pew during communion distribution. Thank you for honoring our convictions. If you are interested in classes to prepare you to receive communion at this altar, please request information from a pastor or call the church office.

Sounds good to me. :thumbsup: My Russian Orthodox friend informed me that the priest will actually ask a person approaching him for communion whom he did not see at confession the night before, if he/she had been to confession.

Our pastors will not commune anyone that comes to the altar rail that they do not recongnize. Some will get upset especially visiting Lutherans from the ELCA. I was a member of the ELCA that visited this church but it did not bother me after I read the bulletin. We joined this church because of its confessional stance.

And what is its confessional stance? Curious :slight_smile:

I think when all Christians are one we’ll be at the time of the Second Coming. Know you’re not to speculate but that’s my thoughts for all their worth. :smiley:

Yet, as was posted earlier, since we practice “close” communion, the pastor does have some latitude. For example, when we first visited our current parish, we came from an ELCA parish. There are no ELCA parishes in our county, so the pastor, after a conversation with us about our confessional stance, allowed us to commune. Close communion has more latitude than “closed” communion.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.