LCMS Teacher's Convention Receives Invalid Communion
By Rev. Jack Cascione


The Lutheran Education Association (LEA), the Lutheran teachers of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, held their Convention on April 18-20, 2002 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There were more than 4000 teachers in attendance. The LEA Convention opened with a Communion service.

During the service, the teachers remained seated at round tables, each accommodating ten people. At each table there was one goblet of wine and a small plate with ten Communion wafers. After the pastor on the stage consecrated his own bread and wine, the teachers were instructed to serve each other the bread and wine at their own tables with the words, "The Body of Christ for you," "The Blood of Christ for you."

According to the texts of the Bible and standard Lutheran practice, the teachers did not receive the Lord's Supper, because the elements at their tables were not consecrated.

Must the Words of Institution be spoken over the bread and wine? Christ's words of institution clearly state: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night on which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it and gave it to His disciples saying, 'Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. . . .'"

"After the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying, 'Drink ye all of it; this cup is the New Testament in My blood . . .'"

"Nothing has the nature of a sacrament apart from the use instituted by Christ" (Lutheran Confessions, Formula of Concord, Article VII, par. 85). The LEA Communion did not follow Christ's institution. Christ took the bread in His hand, and blessed it and distributed it. He did not bless all the bread in front of each disciple. He did not distribute the bread that was in front of each disciple. Christ took the cup, not the cup in front of each disciple, blessed it, and gave it to them.

Christ did not practice long distance consecration. He did not consecrate all the bread and wine in the room, only the bread and wine He took, blessed, and distributed. At the LEA convention, the pastor only took and blessed his own bread and wine. This is not the Lord's Supper.

Walther writes, "If the Words of Institution are not at all spoken OVER the elements, so the elements are not blessed or consecrated, one is not doing what Christ commanded. So He does not fulfill there what He promised; one is not celebrating the meal instituted by Christ; Christ's body and blood are not present; and nothing is distributed and received except bread and wine." (Pastoral Theology, Walther, CN 1995 page 133)

There is a question of proximity. How far away from the elements can the Words of Institution be spoken? If a pastor speaks the Words of Institution in a neighboring congregation at the same time another congregation five miles away is celebrating the Lord's Supper (whose pastor does not speak the Words of Institution), does the real presence of Christ's body and blood take place in the neighboring congregation?

Can the pastor speak the Words of Institution while he is sick in bed in the parsonage and at the same time consecrate the elements on the altar in the church service?

Walther says the words are to be "spoken over the elements" or there is no consecration and no forgiveness of sins. Over means "over," and not "over there" or "anywhere else." "This is my Body" does not mean, "That bread over there is My Body."

Walther endorses the following method of consecration: "When the words are spoken, 'He took the bread,' the preacher lays his hands on the plate of wafers and lets it rest there until the words come, 'This is my body,' when he makes the sign of the cross over bread. When later the words are spoken, 'He took the cup,' he touches the cup with his hand and lets his hand rest there until the words come, 'This is my blood,' when the sign of the cross is made again over the cup.'"

"If there are so many communicants that not all the necessary wafers can be laid on the paten, and not all the wine can be poured into the cup, the rest should be put into a wafer box and a wine flask, suitable for churchly use, made of metal if possible, both of which are to be opened before the consecration, which are to be placed right there, and over which the sign of the cross is to be made at the appropriated time, to indicate that also this part of the elements belongs to what is being set aside [for sacramental use]." (Pastoral Theology, Walther, CN 1995 page 141)

The teachers did not come forward to take Communion, as is required practice in the LCMS. Coming forward identifies the communicant as making a public confession of agreement with the doctrine and practice of the Lord's Supper; it is a sign of public repentance; it also allows the pastor to exercise the authority of his office as to who should and who should not take Communion. Instead, the LEA followed the Baptist practice of everyone remaining in their seats while they took Communion.

In the LCMS we do not place the bread and wine in the hands of Communicants who are sitting in the pews while the pastor consecrates all the elements from the chancel. This is an abomination.

Most of the teachers are women. The women served Communion to each other and the men teachers. Women are not supposed to serve men Communion in the LCMS.

Luther states: "Not that it matters to God whether one stands here or there, nor that it adds something to faith, but it is necessary for this reason that the person may be seen and recognized by those who receive the Sacrament as well as by those who do not go, so that afterwards there lives may be that much more seen proved, and revealed. For the reception of this Sacrament in the congregation is a part of the Christian confession so that those who go to it confess before God, angels, and people that they are Christians. For that reason it is to be diligently observed that none sneak secretly to the Sacrament and afterwards, mixed among other Christians, cannot be seen whether they live well or wickedly." (Pastoral Theology, Walther, CN 1995 page 143)

The LEA practiced open Communion. These are the words published in the worship folder for the service: "We believe, teach, and confess, that in the Lord's Supper, Christ comes to us with His real presence to forgive ours sins and to assure us of everlasting life and salvation. We prepare for Communion by examining ourselves, repenting of our sins, and anticipating our Lord's forgiveness. To those who share this confession with us we say, welcome to the Lord's Table."

There was no requirement of membership in the LCMS in order to receive Communion at the LEA Convention. Not all Lutheran teachers are members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. There is such a great teacher shortage that many of the teachers are from different denominations. Yet, anyone could buy a ticket to the Convention and anyone could take Communion. Some teachers brought their spouses, not all of whom are members of the LCMS.

The service also lacked the required confession and absolution in a Lutheran Communion Service.

Clearly, novelty has become more important at the LEA Communion Service than orthodoxy. Was there any concern on the part of the Minnesota South District President that 4000 plus LCMS teachers were given an invalid, meaningless, empty Communion? How many of the teachers are concerned about this fiasco masquerading as divine worship? How many were even aware that they did not receive Communion?

The love of novelty over truth will inevitably make the LCMS as meaningless as the Communion served at the LEA Convention.

On April 18, 2002, President Jerry Kieschnick sent a "Housing Allowance - Call to Action" to all LCMS Ordained and Commissioned Ministers of the Gospel. The U. S. Senate may revoke our housing allowance. This gets more priority than 4000 LCMS teachers being served phony Communion or Dr. Waldo Werning distributing false doctrine about the Trinity to every 2001 Convention delegate.

The statistical decline of the LCMS is following the decline in its concern for true doctrine and practice. When anything goes its because nothing matters, just don't cut the clergy's housing allowance.

The LEA is under the direction of Executive Director Jonathan Laabs.

Jonathan Laabs
Lutheran Education Assoc.
7400 St. Augusta Street
River Forest IL 60305-1499

Phone 708-209-3343
FAX 708-209-3458  WWW.LEA.ORG

Rev. Jack Cascione is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS - MI) in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He has written numerous articles for Christian News and is the author of Reclaiming the Gospel in the LCMS: How to Keep Your Congregation Lutheran. He has also written a study on the Book of Revelation called In Search of the Biblical Order.
He can be reached by email at

April 21, 2002