I was baptized, and my confirmation was at Salem church in Stillwater, Minnesota (a WELS church ). My confirmation was over 55 years ago. I moved from the area and have not been a member of Salem church for 50 years. I have attended ELCA churches through the years but not a member of any church at this time. My question is, I will be in Stillwater, Minnesota area this summer and would I be welcome to participate in Communion (Lord's Supper) at Salem Church? Thank You.
If you were to attend a Holy Communion worship service in the WELS church you referenced (or any WELS church), chances are you would read something like the following in the bulletin:
“Out of sincere love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we practice closed communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and is thoroughly scriptural. It judges the heart of no individual, yet expects that there be full doctrinal agreement among those who commune. For this reason we ask that only members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) or the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) join us for the Lord’s Supper today. If you have any questions about this or any other matter of the Christian faith, please feel free to speak with the pastor. ”
“We practice closed communion. This means that we invite to commune with us only those who are members of this congregation or members of another congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) or the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). By so doing, we are being faithful to the Lord’s teaching about his Holy Supper. He teaches that those who commune together express their agreement with all his teachings (1 Corinthians 10:17). Sadly, all Christians are not in complete agreement because of false teachings. By not inviting Christians outside our fellowship to commune with us, we avoid an expression of unity where it does not exist. If you have questions concerning this practice, please speak with the pastor.”
Christians joined together by a common confession of faith—and demonstrating that common confession of faith by their church membership—express their unity through reception of the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps you would have opportunity this spring or summer to re-establish membership with the congregation and the synod—I don’t know. I would encourage you to establish membership in a congregation where you can regularly receive the Sacrament. And, as the paragraphs above indicated, I could probably help you most by directing you to contact the pastor(s) of the congregation you intend to visit.