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).

Table of contents
1 Definition
2 Exceptions
3 Usage note
4 External links


A closed-communion church is one that (perhaps with exceptions in unusual circumstances) excludes non-members from receiving communion. The Roman Catholic church (if one construes that term to include all churches that are in communion with the pope and acknowledging that all Christians owe obedience to the pope, regardless of whether they are of the Latin Rite or one of the Eastern Rites) is a closed-communion church. The Eastern Orthodox Church, comprising 16 autocephalous Orthodox hierarchical churches, is a 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, but a Protestant or a Roman Catholic attending a Greek Orthodox liturgy will be excluded from communion; as will a non-Christian, of course.)

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. Other groups that practice some form of closed communion include the Apostolic Christian Church, Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, and Primitive Baptists.


(The following are examples, not rules.) If a Roman Catholic marries an Orthodox Christian in an Orthodox church, the priests in both churches may allow the Roman Catholic to receive communion from the Orthodox priest at the wedding. 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. 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.

Usage note

External links