Closed communion

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Closed communion is the practice in some Christian churches of offering communion (also known as Holy Eucharist or Lord's Supper) only to members of the same denomination (or more restrictively to only members of the specific congregation). The reason for practicing closed communion is generally because of differing beliefs about the meaning and nature of Holy Communion that exist among denominations.

A variant on this practice, called "close" or "cracked" communion, allows participants who are not members of that congregation or denomination, but are members of one "of like faith and practice", to participate. For example, a Southern Baptist church practicing such would allow a member of another Southern Baptist church to participate, might allow a member of an Independent Baptist church to participate (as Southern Baptists and Independent Baptists hold the same views on Communion), and might allow a member of a non-denominational evangelical church (or even a Pentecostal church) to participate (again due to common views on Communion), but would exclude a Catholic from participating (as Catholics believe in transubstantiation whereas Southern Baptists do not).

Churches that practice closed communion

  • Catholic Church: The Roman Catholic Church normally restricts communion to Catholics in good standing (i.e. not in mortal sin and not excommunicated). On certain occasions members of other churches with valid holy orders and identical beliefs about the Eucharist are admitted to communion.

Technically Churches of Christ practice closed communion as it is restricted only to those who are members of the Church of Christ; however, in practice the churches leave it to individual attendees (members and visitors) to decide whether or not to participate, and therefore the practice is more in line with open communion. The practice of leaving participation to individual attendees is also common in many Baptist churches except for smaller ones that can observe and restrict such.

See also