After several requests for Gluten-Free bread recipes for use as communion bread, I finally made the leap and started a blog specifically to share recipes and other practical information about gluten-free communion bread. The blog is http://gfcommunionbread.wordpress.com/ and as the title area of the blog says “it’s a beginning.”
Although I may link back and forth on occasion this remains my “meandering thoughts through this journey blog” while this new blog remains focused on the narrow subject of GF bread recipes and other practical aspects of inclusive communion elements.
Now I just have to carve out some time to spread the word within the GF and allergy communities online as well as letting clergy and others know about the resource. Feel free to help with that!
Today I give thanks for sunshine, time to write and colleagues that are interested in inclusive communion discussions — including GF bread!
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~
Let me begin by sharing that every single Holy Communion service while at my Diaconal Ministry Formation Event here in Gettysburg uses gluten free bread for all participants as well as alcohol free wine for all. Other than the one chapel service at Wartburg Seminary this fall that Shawn and I provided the communion bread (so it was gluten free), this is the first time I have felt fully included in the communion service. It is powerful.
We believe that we are communing as a community during Holy Communion as well as coming to Christ’s Table. It is a challenge to feel a part of the community when one cannot partake in the same elements as the rest of the community. Having GF bread available for those that need it is a step in the right direction; however, there is a difference when compared to all being able to partake together as a community.
In the past I would often either have to plan ahead and provide my own GF bread for communion, or be diligently watching to be sure that the GF bread is indeed available at the table as I was told it would be (either in person or through a church’s bulletin announcements). I have even experienced more than once going forward for communion only to be told that contrary to the printed announcement, there is no GF bread available today or that it was forgotten. And frequently even when it is there those serving communion do not understand what to do with it. I am open to honest respectful communication with anyone regarding the various ways to handle GF communion, but this post is simply a witness to how powerful, and truly life-changing, it has been to experience communion here at this event as a full participant.
We gather around the table in a semi circle during communion (we also generally worship in the round), and are served the gluten free bread and de-alcoholized wine as we are gathered there. We are there gathered together in that holy sacrament rather than going forward one at time.
I have often wept during and after this powerful experience this past week. I have not been so moved by gathering in community and remembering and receiving Christ’s body and blood in years. I give God thanks and praise for bringing me to this community!
Glory be to God!