Break Bread Together
The United Methodist Church celebrates open communion in the spirit of a Sacrament of Remembering the Last Supper. John Wesley emphasized communion as "the grand channel whereby the grace of His Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God."
Many congregations include believers whose health is at risk by consuming any wheat, barley, rye and common oats. An estimated 1 in 141 Americans are affected by wheat sensitivities and celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disease. In seeking an opportunity for full open communion, many churches inquire about a positive way to serve parishioners who cannot eat wheat. It is evident that the bread formulated without wheat and gluten is suitable for the entire congregation.
In the spirit of bringing us together as a community, the Celiac Sprue Association suggests your church will initiate the use of communion bread free of wheat, barley, rye and oats - a bread uniting this congregation in a common experience. Modifying the ingredients of the Communion Bread visibly models "community" for all. In preparation for communion you can study Paul's words to the Corinthians on the Lord's Supper.
The potential risk of cross contamination of any low gluten or no gluten wafer with wheat hosts requires management. Consider a Roman Catholic item called a pyx (container usually used to hold the Consecrated Host when taking it to the sick) which can be consecrated as one solution.
Protestant worshippers are encouraged to discuss their beliefs and dietary situation directly with their pastor for receiving Holy Communion without compromising their health. Ener-G Foods offers a gluten-free and soy free Communion wafer.
Roman Catholics with celiac disease are presented with the following choices for participation in Holy Communion.
Wine only eliminates the exposure to wheat so is the most risk free option
- A “low–gluten” wheat host is available from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. This wafer contains a small amount wheat and may not be appropriate for all those with celiac disease.
Celiac Disease and Holy Communion: A Medical and Spiritual Dilemma by MSGR. Mark J. Merdian
The first time I had to deal with the issue of celiac disease, I was the pastor of a large suburban parish when the parochial vicar came into my office and asked if we had any Communion options for those suffering from celiac disease. He asked if we provided the precious blood to them or offered them some other spiritual remedy. Sadly, I responded in the negative and knew I had to offer a spiritual remedy.
I had heard of celiac disease before, and being involved in medical ethics, I had discussed this with others, thinking it was not going to affect me as a pastor. How wrong I was…to read more, click here
Permission of use granted from Homiletic & Pastoral Review - June 2013
A Letter to Your Congregation
Congregational policy statement in using gluten-free waffers.
Sourcse for Gluten Free Communion Waffers
Ener-G Foods - 1-800-331-5222
Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration - Order by calling 1–800–223–2772
Visit these links for more information:
- John Wesley Sermon I, 440
- I Corinthians 11:17-12:31
- With special thanks to Pastor Johnson