Q: Is it OK for me to take communion when I visit other churches?
A: It is fair to say that in my time the idea of communing at non-Lutheran churches would raise serious concerns, to say the least. However, in the nearly 500 years since the start of the reformation new insights have arisen that should allow you to feel comfortable in coming to the table in many additional churches.
As a baptized or confirmed member of an LCMC church you may certainly feel comfortable in sharing in communion at any other LCMC church. It remains appropriate in all cases however, even in an LCMC context, to examine yourself prior to partaking. As mentioned previously, opportunities for corporate and individual confession and absolution, including the use of the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness, are especially appropriate. Helpful forms of personal preparation may include self-examination, prayer, fasting, meditation, and reconciliation with others through the exchange of peace.
Because of the universal nature of the Church, the LCMC position is that LCMC Lutherans may participate in the eucharistic services of other Christian churches.
If you are considering communion at non-LCMC Lutheran churches mutual membership in the Lutheran World Federation should allow your participation. Having said that, some Lutheran denominations and congregations feel strongly that only members of the denomination or congregation should partake during their services. This is often referred to as “closed communion.”
But it is fair to say that other Christian, but non-Lutheran churches, may also have their own interpretations on the meaning of communion and the appropriateness of your participation.
When visiting other churches Lutherans should respect the practices of the host congregation. A conscientious decision whether or not to commune in another church is informed by the Lutheran understanding of the Gospel preached and the sacraments administered as Christ’s gift.
For this reason, it would be strongly recommended that you enquire of the local pastor regarding your participation.
Your Brother in Christ,