Holy Communion

Holy Communion is a sacred meal in which the presence, love, forgiveness, and mercy of Christ come to us in bread and wine. God is the host and invites everyone, regardless of age, understanding, or background, to this table where faith is nourished.

While it is not a requirement to attend Communion Class before receiving Communion, we strongly encourage families to attend because learning about this sacrament can deepen its meaning.

Do you want to learn more about Holy Communion at Shepherd of the Valley? Please choose from the questions below.

Holy Communion is one of the Lutheran sacraments, or “means of grace”— ways in which Jesus Christ is present through the Spirit in everyday material (bread and wine). Communion connects us not only to God, but also to the community, the body of Christ, who share in these sacraments.

When Jesus celebrated the Last Supper (a traditional Jewish Passover ritual feast) with his disciples, he commanded, “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Today, in response to Jesus’ command, we celebrate with a worship meal of bread (or wafer) and wine (or grape juice) and understand Holy Communion to be God’s promised gift of grace. Jesus said “My body, given for you … my blood, shed for you,” and we, mysteriously, eat and drink the true Body and Blood of Christ Himself, in the consecrated bread and wine.

Who can take Communion at SOTV? Anyone who wants to! At SOTV we believe that God invites everyone, regardless of age, understanding, or background to receive God’s gift of grace through Holy Communion.

This means that all people – without exception – are welcome to receive the bread and wine. We offer Communion Classes and strongly encourage families to attend when their children show interest in Communion by asking about it or reaching for the bread. Taking time to learn about Holy Communion and reflect on what it means to us is an important element of our lifelong faith journey, but no one is required to attend a class before receiving Communion.

Can I take Communion at other churches? Over the last 20+ years, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the bigger church body that includes SOTV, has become “full communion partners” with the Presbyterian, Reformed, United Church of Christ, Moravian, Episcopal, and United Methodist Church, which means that Lutherans can also receive Communion in any of those churches.  

The Catholic Church and some other Christian denominations require that you be a member of that specific denomination, and have the same understanding of what Communion means, in order to receive Communion during their worship. It is like a “house rule” in those churches.

Do you have to be baptized to take communion? The tradition of the Christian church is to be baptized before beginning to receive communion. At SOTV we do not want obstacles to receiving God’s grace at The Table, and so we welcome all to the Lord’s Supper. We do strongly encourage anyone not baptized to consider that sacrament to participate in the embrace of loving grace in the family of God.

How do we celebrate “First Communion?” We expect that for many children, their First Communion will happen with little fanfare, perhaps in response to them asking in the middle of a service if they can participate, or at a friend’s church after a sleepover. For some families, a formal celebration of First Communion is an important faith milestone associated with a specific learning experience. To these families, we invite you to attend a Communion Class (offered several times a year); there is a special blessing during worship the weekend following the class, and for some (though not all) children, this is also their First Communion. Additionally, families may host a party at home, inviting family and friends to join in a special meal or cake or other festivities. 

Is there a minimum age requirement or required classes to take before First Communion? In short – No.

God has invited you to this meal, exactly the way you are and with whatever background and insight you have; no preparation needed. Yet learning about Holy Communion is an unending and lifelong process, and none of us will ever be able to fully wrap our minds around this mysterious gift of God’s grace. We offer Communion Classes and strongly encourage families to attend, because learning about this sacrament may deepen its meaning for you – but attending a class is not a requirement for receiving Communion.

It was Jesus who said “Let the little children come to me” (Mark 10:14). Jesus valued children and welcomed them into his presence with open arms. Including young children in the invitation to receive Communion is a powerful way to welcome them as full participants in worship and our faith community. Further, what are we teaching about God’s gift of grace if we turn children away?

What should I wear for First Communion? In the past, it was traditional for girls to wear a white dress for First Communion, though that practice is not common now at SOTV. Holy Communion is a special celebration, so you could dress up like you were going to a fancy party. And God invites you to “come as we are,” so you could also choose to wear your favorite comfy sweatshirt. Or you might choose to dress somewhere in between. There are no rules or expectations about what you should wear to Communion or church in general, and we leave that decision up to individuals (or to kids, with some input from their parents).


At all services, ushers will dismiss people by rows; as you come forward, cup your hands in front of you to receive the Body of Christ (bread/wafer). Both wine and grape juice, and gluten-free options, are available at all services.

At Piano/Organ-led worship (Saturdays 5:00pm, Sundays 8:30am and 9:45am), Communion is served on the first and third weekends of each month. A server will offer you a wafer, which you eat once you receive it; then select a small glass of red wine or white grape juice. Replace the empty glass on the stand next to the server. Please ask the communion server for gluten free if needed.

At Band-led Services (Sunday 11:00am), Communion is served every week. Dip your pita bread into the red wine or white grape juice, and then eat it. Please ask the communion server for gluten free if needed.

We can trust God’s promise to be present for us in the bread and wine, and that this sacred meal nourishes our faith in a way that is difficult or impossible to describe. Even if we have trouble trusting (or feeling anything in particular), it doesn’t make God’s promise less true or the gift less powerful.

So if you feel unworthy, giggly, emotional, nervous, confused, sad, or anything else you feel might not be the “right” feeling – know that God loves you and welcomes you as you are.

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Blog Posts On Holy Communion:

When should my child start taking Holy Communion? By Pastor Randy on March 10, 2016

All are welcome – including the youngest among us by Pastor Wendy on January 1, 2020

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