Synods and the Lord’s Supper

May an LCMS member take Communion at a WELS church after professing their faith to the pastor, and vice-versa?

Our pastors are happy to commune people who belong to churches of our fellowship. An LCMS (The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) member represents his or her church, and because WELS and LCMS are not in fellowship with one another, we refrain from communing together, as the reception of the Lord’s Supper is an expression of unity in the faith (1 Corinthians 10:17). The individual profession of a person is one thing, but a person’s profession of faith by his or her church membership is what we really need to consider. We see church membership as a way in which Christians acknowledge Jesus before others (Matthew 10:32) and publicly indicate their unity in faith and doctrine with fellow believers.

Our practice in WELS is not unique. LCMS states on its website: “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 [my emphasis] 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.” WELS also allows for extraordinary cases and emergencies, but we recognize LCMS’ position of normally communing those “with whom we are in altar and pulpit fellowship.” That would exclude WELS.

While WELS and LCMS are not in fellowship with one another, you may or may not be aware that the two synods, along with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), have met annually for the last six years to share information and to be better informed on areas where there is agreement and disagreement. This link will take you to a report that describes the most recent meeting.