Communion Wafers versus Baked Bread Squares
The body of Christ comes in more than one form and different churches choose wafers or baked bread to serve to their faithful. Here’s everything you should know about the different communion hosts.
The Difference Between Wafers and Baked Bread Squares
Traditional communion wafers are typically thin, round cakes of unleavened bread that are similar to crackers or hardtack. They are made with the most basic of ingredients: flour, water, shortening and salt. Modern wafers also come in low-gluten or gluten-free varieties to accommodate special diets.
Leavened bread is also used for communion in many churches, and this fluffy bread is often cut into small squares to share. Ingredients in traditional bread squares include water, flour, yeast and salt, though modern versions can follow any bread recipe that is popular with a particular congregation. In fact, some churches use a special cutter to make cubes of traditional sliced bread.
Unleavened wafers are used exclusively in the Catholic church, and some Protestant denominations such as Lutherans — or even individual churches within denominations — also use communion wafers. By contrast, Eastern Orthodox churches use specially prepared leavened bread, while Reformed and other Protestant groups specifically use leavened bread to highlight their rejection of transubstantiation.
Introducing a New Communion Bread
If your church is thinking of changing from wafers to baked bread squares or vice versa, consider the impact that a change in tradition may have on the congregation before making a final decision. Many churchgoers find comfort in the rituals surrounding communion and have come to expect a certain religious experience, so it’s important to be open about any changes and get feedback and input from church members. Listening to members concerns or ideas is an important way to build community and create a sensitive, caring environment for Christian practice.
Regardless of which type of host your church uses, communion is an important religious experience for your congregation. Though small, wafers and bread squares play a huge role in the Christian experience.