Closed communion

From Academic Kids

Closed communion is the practice of restricting the serving of the elements of communion (also called Eucharist, The Lord's Supper) to those who are members of a particular church, denomination, or sect. Though the meaning of the term varies slightly in different Christian theological traditions, it generally means a church or denomination limits participation either to members of their own church, members of their own denomination, or members of some specific class (e.g., baptized members of evangelical churches). See also intercommunion.



A closed-communion church is one that (perhaps with exceptions in unusual circumstances) excludes non-members from receiving communion. The Roman Catholic church (and all churches that are in full communion with the Holy See, including the Latin and Eastern rites) is a closed-communion church. The Eastern Orthodox Church, comprising 16 autocephalous Orthodox hierarchical churches, is another closed-communion church. Thus, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church attending the Divine Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Church, will be allowed to receive communion, and vice versa, but a Protestant or a Roman Catholic attending a Greek Orthodox liturgy will be excluded from communion. In either case, non-Christians are also excluded.

Among Baptist churches, closed communion is the practice of restricting communion (or The Lord's Supper) to only those who hold membership in the local church that is observing the ordinance. Thus, members from other churches, even other Baptist churches, will be excluded from participating in the communion service. This viewpoint is usually, though not exclusively, associated with Landmark ecclesiology.

The congregations that make up the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod practice closed communion, as do some other groups such as the Apostolic Christian Church, Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, some churches in the Reformed tradition and Primitive Baptists.

Examples and applications

If a Roman Catholic marries a Syriac Orthodox Christian in a Syriac Orthodox church, the priests in both churches may allow the Roman Catholic to receive communion from the Orthodox priest at the wedding. [1] ( The Holy See recognizes the validity of Eastern Orthodox sacraments and poses conditions under which Catholics may receive them. [2] ( A Catholic priest would deny permission for a Catholic to receive communion in a Protestant church, since the eucharist in Protestant churches is considered invalid because the minister was not properly ordained by a bishop in a line of succession dating back to the apostles, referred to as Apostolic Succession. A Catholic priest could give communion to a Protestant marrying a Catholic, provided the Catholic understanding of the eucharist is not in any way contradicted.

Many Scottish Protestant churches used to give tokens to members passing a religious test prior to the day of communion, then required the token for entry. Some US and other churches also used communion tokens.

Usage note

  • When using the phrase "closed communion" as a noun phrase, it should not be hyphenated. For example: "The Eastern Orthodox Church practices closed communion."
  • When using it as a compound adjective, it should be hyphenated. For example: "The Eastern Orthodox Church is a closed-communion church."

See also

External links


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