Guest and the Lord’s Supper

As an ELCA church member, will I be permitted to receive Communion in a WELS church?

When you attend a Holy Communion service in a WELS church, you might read something like the following in the church bulletin: “The Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, will be celebrated in today’s service. The Bible teaches us that Jesus offers us his body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins in the Lord’s Supper. The Bible also instructs us that receiving the Lord’s Supper together is a public expression of our complete ‘oneness,’ or unity of faith.

“Because the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our unity in faith, we invite to the Lord’s Supper only those who have expressed that unity with us through membership in our congregation or one of our sister congregations in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), or our sister denomination in the United States, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS).

“If you are a guest from another Christian church, we kindly ask that you refrain from participation in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper today. We don’t want to be presumptuous and put you in the position of declaring your agreement with our beliefs before you have had a chance to learn more.

“We would like you to be able to join us for the Lord’s Supper in the future. If you would like more information on how that can be possible, please speak to our pastor after the service. We look forward to any opportunity to discuss the Christian faith with you and to work toward a common confession of faith!”

If the WELS church you attend does not have that much detail in their bulletin regarding the reception of Holy Communion, their practice will reflect the statements above. So, while you will not be able to receive Holy Communion, you will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed. And the gospel in Word brings the same blessings as the gospel in the sacrament.

Please do contact the pastor of the church you visit. He will be happy to explain in person the historic and scriptural practice of closed communion.