I am interested in the history of the practice of Holy Communion in the WELS I experienced as a child, versus today. When I was young, members who chose not to take Holy Communion would be ushered out, then the service of Holy Communion would begin. When/why did that practice change, to now including it as part of the entire worship service?
What you experienced was not a synod-wide practice. Then, as now, local congregations made revisions to long-standing worship practices. Some congregations acquiesced to worshipers who left before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper by providing an early Benediction for them. Other congregations intentionally brought the Holy Communion service to an end before the consecration and distribution of the elements, and ushered out those worshipers who were not communing. The worshipers who remained often participated in an “Order of the Confessional Service” and then the reception of the Lord’s Supper.
Recognizing the use of opening and closing hymns, liturgical worship services—with or without the Lord’s Supper—begin with the Invocation and end with the Benediction. Hymnals, then and now, reflected that structure of the worship service. Your question tells me you are seeing more consistent implementation of that structure today.