that as long as the members who are there remain, he doesn’t think closed communion is a possibility. What can laypeople do in these situations to help?
Thank you for this question. You bring a valid question, surrounding a serious need.
As each of our LCMS youth finish High School and head off to college, they are faced with a few challenges. Some being:
1. On their own for the first time.
2. College finances (How much Top Ramen can we buy for $2?)
3. New relationships OUTSIDE your sphere of familiarity (Your home boys/girls)
With all of that stuff going on, a student must also mature into being the person who engages in his or her spiritual life APART from your parents making you. This is the time where the student becomes the young adult that parents pray for.
That being said, supposing that the student manages to survive the separation, the finances, and the new friendships, the LAST thing they need is a church life that bears a false witness to the Christian confession they have been raised in and confirmed in. The LCMS-U congregation is not any old “college chapel” it is a very specific Word and Sacrament ministry to students of the LCMS tradition, as well as College students looking for a deep, spiritual worship life.
What you have come up against (apparently) is an LCMS-U congregation who is not really keeping with the LCMS practice of “close/Closed Communion”. You have also come across a Pastor who seems somewhat uncomfortable with this practice, yet does not see any hope of change, because of current lack of support. This “lack of support” is the opening for students. I know that students have a lot on their plate, but a part of maturation, is for them to talk to the pastor and see how they might be supportive of him in his task of being faithful to his call. You might be surprised that support from the younger students for a more faithful expression of our Church, may change hearts and minds.
There is something else, however unpleasant, that we may also have to consider. You see, there comes a time when students may not be able to have a faithful church life at a particular congregation, at that time, they may need to talk to the Pastor and even their parents about relocating to another LCMS congregation, who will give them the spiritual care they require during this new phase in life.
In any case, the students at this LCMS-U chapel are going to have to start making more grown-up decisions that will help them continue forming into the adult that they want to become. In any case, I pray the Lord’s continual guidance on them and you in both worship and college life!
In His service and in yours,
Christ Lutheran Church & School
Coos Bay, OR 97420