Earlier I hinted at the beginnings of a research project, and this past January I gave thanks for experiencing, for the first time, inclusive communion that included me. During the last few weeks of the semester I became very excited about my Master’s research project — in short, “inclusive communion.” I will be researching and writing about inclusive communion both in regards to the elements being inclusive to all, including those with a variety of allergies or health issues (with my main focus at this point being gluten free bread and alcohol-free wine, but I invite readers to share about other issues as well), as well as being inclusive in terms of those invited to commune at the table.
To those that know me or have read much of what I publish via social media it may seem obvious that this is a very personal issue for me since I have been restricted to a gluten-free diet for about 4 years now. What some may not know is that inclusive in the sense of who comes to the table is also a very personal issue for me. I grew up in a church that practices “close communion.” I no longer share the belief that the practice of “close communion” is what Christ intended communion to be (in spite of taking proof text quotes from scripture). However, I have been uncomfortable talking about it openly outside of my seminary community. After all I many friends and family members that still practice close communion (or other beliefs I disagree with). It’s time that I learn to talk about these differences. It’s time I own my own beliefs. It’s also time that I dig *deeply* into the theology of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
I won’t go into many details here at this point, after all I have years of research and writing ahead of me (graduating Spring 2015). Yet, I will share brief points along the way, and I want to invite readers to comment here —
I am especially looking for stories, including specific places I can contact or visit, that do practice inclusive communion in some form (gluten free or in an open invitation to the table or in another way meaningful to participants). I also invite those of you that have felt excluded (intentionally or not) to share your stories. If needed I will open an additional forum to do so.
Please also share stories of how your or other congregations you are familiar with have begun to address this even if it is baby steps — how is gluten free communion handled? do you use alcohol free wine? is it easy for those with disabilities or other physical impairments to participate in communion? Any other thoughts?
Love and belief~