Seating Chart for the Lord's Table: Who May Take Communion in Christian Denominations

Seating Chart for the Lord's Table: Who May Take Communion in Christian Denominations


A Seating Chart for the Lord's Table
Edited by Arthur Magida

If you're visiting a church of another denomination, should you receive Communion? Check our chart to find out. Since Communion practices vary widely among individual churches, the chart is intended to be a general guide to denominational practices. Please join the intercommunion discussion to post your views and experiences.

Denomination Which denominations' members may receive Communion in your church? In which denominations are members of your church allowed to receive Communion?
Lutheran - ELCA
ELCA members believe that, through Communion, they receive Christ's body and blood as assurance that God has forgiven their sins.
Communion is given to all baptized believers in Christ. Receiving Communion in another church is a matter of conscience for ELCA members. The church's only policy about the matter is that ELCA members may receive Communion in any church whose tenets are congruent with their own.
Lutheran - Missouri Synod
Synod members believe that, through Communion, they receive Christ's body and blood as assurance that God has forgiven their sins.
Communion is open to members of a church that has entered into an "altar and pulpit fellowship" with the Missouri Synod. This is also known as a "full communion fellowship." In North America, this includes the Lutheran Church-Canada and the Lutheran Synod of Mexico. Elsewhere, about two dozen churches have "altar and pulpit fellowships" with the Missouri Synod. Members of the Missouri Synod may receive Communion only in denominations that have "altar and pulpit fellowships" with the Synod.
Methodist
The bread and grape juice of Methodist Communion signify Christ's body and blood.
Has an "open table": anyone of any age who believes in Christ may receive Communion. Methodists may receive Communion in any church that welcomes them.
Episcopalian
Nearly all Episcopalians believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine.
Communion is open to all baptized Christians. Episcopalians may receive Communion in any church that welcomes them.
Pentecostal Church of God
Calls Communion the Lord's Supper. It is a memorial to Christ's death and resurrection.
Communion is open to all baptized Christians. Members of the Church of God may receive Communion in any church that welcomes them, but only if grape juice--not wine--is served, since Church of God members abstain from alcohol.
Presbyterian
Communion--wafers and grape juice or wine--is an "outward sign of an inward reality." It is a remembrance of Christ, not a transubstantiation of his body and blood.
Communion is open to all baptized Christians. Presbyterians may receive Communion in any church where they are welcome.
Roman Catholic
Through the transubstantiation of the Eucharistic bread and wine, Christ's body and blood are literally present for participants.
Communion is available to members of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Orthodox Churches, and the Polish National Church. Baptized Christians who do not belong to these churches may receive Catholic Communion only if they are gravely ill, do not have access to a minister of their own church, ask for Catholic Communion on their own initiative, and are "properly disposed" toward Catholic Eucharist. Catholics in danger of death may receive the Eucharist from a minister of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Orthodox Churches, or the Polish National Church only if a Catholic minister is unavailable and if they request such Communion of their own volition.
United Church of Christ
Communion celebrates "not only the memory of a meal that is past, but an actual meal with the risen Christ that is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet."
Each individual congregation determines its own policies. However, most follow the UCC Book of Worship, which says the Communion Table is "open to all Christians who wish to know the presence of Christ and to share in the community of God's people" (more). The UCC is in communion with the Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Reformed Church in America, and has ecumenical partnerships with several denominations, including the Methodist, Anglican and Baptist churches.

Baptist
The bread and grape juice of Communion memorialize Christ's body and blood, and are a reminder of the Second Coming.
The Baptist churches have no official policy regarding who may receive Communion. Each individual church is autonomous and sets its own policy. Some churches restrict Communion to members of that specific church; some open Communion to any baptized Christian; some open it to anyone present. Some Southern Baptist churches limit Communion to baptized Southern Baptists. Most ministers place the decision about whether to receive Communion in the hearts and minds of those present. The Baptist churches have no official policy regarding which non-Baptist churches its members may receive Communion in. Some ministers say that limiting Communion through such a policy would be contrary to Baptist belief in the "priesthood of the believer," which maintains that each Baptist is accountable directly to Christ.

Sources: Worship Staff, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; News and Information Office, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; General Conference, The United Methodist Church; News and Information Office, The Episcopal Church; Office of the General-Secretary, The Pentecostal Church of God; The Office of the Mission Interpreter and International News, The Presbyterian Church (USA); "Directory of the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenicism," published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Media Office, Southern Baptist Convention.

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