For Christians of
all denominations, communion is one of the most important sacraments in
their religious practice. It provides an opportunity to meditate on their
faith and to connect with others in the church — after all, “communion"
and “community” come from the same root word.
Given its central place in
Christianity, it’s sometimes hard to imagine changing anything about the
age-old communion tradition of taking a bit of wine and bread. One simple
change could have a big impact on parishioners with restricted diets: gluten-free wafers
1. Gluten-Free Wafers Allow All Church Members to Participate
members may have serious autoimmune disorders that are made worse by the
consumption of the gluten found in traditional bread products. For example, an estimated 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease
and are on restrictive
diets. Offering gluten-free wafers allows them to fully participate in
the sacraments despite their condition.
2. Gluten-Free Wafers Keep the Focus on Faith
Not everyone who prefers gluten-free products has a medical reason for that choice. Some people choose a gluten-free diet as a way to control their weight or encourage other results, like clearer skin or less digestive bloating. If parishioners are thinking about their diets when it comes time for the sacrament, they’re not able to concentrate on what communion is all about. Gluten-free wafers allow everyone to get what they need without a fuss, keeping their attention on faith rather than on their diets.
3. Gluten-Free Wafers Taste the Same
The texture and flavor of gluten-free communion wafers isn’t noticeably different from traditional, wheat-based wafers, so it’s unlikely that anyone would notice or complain about the switch. Because some churchgoers may find wheat to be an important Biblical requirement, it might be best to label the traditional and gluten-free wafers accordingly, and then allow each person to make his or her own decision.
4. Gluten-Free Wafers Are Welcoming and Inclusive
Churches that offer gluten-free wafers are showing that they care about the needs of individual members. By accommodating those with different medical conditions and preferences, these churches are making an effort to welcome all people equally, including those who may have otherwise had trouble feeling at home in the congregation. This is a major goal of communities of faith, and gluten-free wafers are one small way to achieve it.
Communion is a time for people to come together and reflect on their faith, and gluten-free wafers are an excellent way to make the sacraments accessible for the greatest number of people.