Toronto Churches Offering Gluten-Free Communion Wafers

wafer_1419861cIf you are a gluten-free church goer, does your church offer gluten-free communion wafers? Recently we’ve seen a few churches opting to offer celiac friendly options and now it’s Toronto’s turn.

A few Anglican churches in Toronto offer gluten-free wafers during communion. St. Martin in the Fields and The Church of the Redeemeron on Bloor Street were already offering the gluten-free option and now St. Paul’s Bloor Street Anglican Church is following their lead.

Catholic churches in the area have been offering what they call a “reduced-gluten communion wafer” for a few years now. Catholic canon law requires the use of small amounts of wheat flour for all hosts and Eucharistic bread, says the director of communications for the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Unfortunately these are completely useless for celiacs since we cannot contain even the smallest amount of gluten. Fortunately, in 2006, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed that those with celiac disease who are unable to tolerate even the smallest trace of gluten can receive the sacrament by taking communion wine only.

Anglican priest Rev. Judith Alltree always has her own gluten-free communion wafers. she has such a severe wheat allergy that any exposure to wheat causes severe headaches or even a throat-swelling allergic reaction. She ensures that there are gluten-free options available at all the churches she serves at in the city.

Whilst there is no requirement for churches to offer gluten-free communion wafers, many will do if congregants request it.

Does your church offer gluten-free communion wafers?

8 thoughts on “Toronto Churches Offering Gluten-Free Communion Wafers”

  1. Until recently it was a source of anxiety on Sundays not knowing if GF communion was available or if it would be properly handled. Now as a seminary student I’m not only spreading the word about the importance of GF and allergen friendly communion options, but also recently started a blog since I’m frequently asked for GF bread recipes that would work for communion. Still many more posts to put up in terms of options and cross contamination but it will get there and be a resoursce for (I hope) many churches … a resource individual members can bring to the attention of their pastors and lay leaders.

    I would love to hear more stories of how GF communion is handled in various churches and what it means to those receiving it!

  2. Ours is a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. We have dealt with this question by having a separate paten (plate) for the gluten-free wafer. This is consecrated at the same time as the other elements of communion and the entire paten is handed to the celiac communicant. The wafer is placed on the paten by the celiac and put on the communion table prior to the start of the worship service. Nobody but the celiac handles the wafer. While this may seem unfriendly, it’s the way we worked it out when it came time for our son to commune and he knows that wafer is safe.

  3. I go to a Catholic church which so far is only willing to use a low gluten host. When I ask about setting up an uncontaminated situation using wine the priest was not receptive. He said that the low gluten host should be sufficient. He had obviously been talking to someone with no understanding of celiac disease.

  4. A few years ago an announcement was made in St. Louis that the Roman Catholic church could not offer gluten free communion wafers citing Scripture that the wafers had to contain some gluten to be “authentic”. Obviously, they are grossly misinformed. The Passover/Seder meal that Jesus shared was a MEAL from which the tradition of communion evolved. The idea that communion has to be gluten bread is a man-made decision. I attend a Presbyterian church and all the elements are gluten free for all the congregation and visitors. We use grape juice, not wine, to respect recovering alcoholics and individuals who are on prescription drugs that cannot be mixed with alcohol.The wafers used by many churches are an invention by the Roman Catholic church Gluten-free wafers can be purchased from religious bookstores or ordered online or through a catalog.

  5. At my Roman Catholic parish there are low-gluten hosts, those made by the Benedictine Sisters in Missouri. When they became available,I took an un-consecrated host home to eat and observe its affects on my system. There were no problems so I felt confident about receiving the host at mass. The priest places the low-gluten hosts for each mass in a pyx which is closed until time for distribution. For the wine, I keep track of which cup has a piece of regular host dropped into it and receive from one of the other cups.
    Having spoken with many non-Catholic friends, I know that the level of peace I feel when receiving communion is hard for some to understand. The only thing I can say is that it really does make a difference in my life to be able to receive communion with my community.

  6. Our ELCA Lutheran church in CA started including gluten free wafers a few year ago when there were several members and occasional visitors that were gluten free. A few gluten free wafers are placed on one side of each paten. Prior to that, when my husband was the only one in the congregation with that need, our pastor ask us to bring a few gluten free crackers and a piece of the cracker was used for his wafer.

  7. My church in Pleasanton, California offers what they refer to as GF hosts. Catholic Community of Pleasanton. They are served to me first so it appears they are trained in cross contamination issues.

  8. My church, Epworth United Methodist Church in Ottawa Hills, OH, purchases gluten-free communion wafers, so that I and one other person can be served with them. They are set up before each service and served on a separate plate with little glasses of grape juice so we don’t need to dip the “bread” in the communal goblet when communion is served by that method.

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