Factory tour field trip day was my all-time favorite highlight of grade school. Our recent involvement in processing gluten free Communion wafers would make my 3rd grade self totally geek out right now. Since I assume everyone enjoys finding out “how’s that made?” as much as I do, I wanted to share a bit of the story with our church friends.
My very first thoughts when I saw the baking trays were, these wafers truly are holy. I was taught that the term “holy” simply means “set apart.” Wafers are punched as rounds in the rolled dough but the whole sheet is baked as one loaf. Once it cooled, our job was to separate the round hosts from the unusable background. We set apart the wafer.
The process reminded me of taking apart the pieces of a model airplane: holding the framework spine and gently breaking away each piece. This painstaking effort took over 26 hours to finish our first batch. We still had many hours ahead of us to stack the wafers into columns, seal into bundles of cello bags and finish by packaging into jars. Our best estimate is that it takes 42 minutes to complete the packaging of one jar of 350 wafers, not including the baking and production time.
Celebrate Communion’s specialty wafers are made in a dedicated gluten free bakery. Wafers are safe from exposure from all the major food allergens: Free from gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, egg, casein, soy, nut, corn and sodium. Kosher certification assures that the bakery meets the strictest cleaning standards, purity and quality.
The gluten free product line is clearly more expensive to produce than traditional supplies. Because of the man-hours required to do these hands-on tasks the bakery informed us the current costs would now be tripled, effective immediately. So that’s how we came to the factory. Our amazing family and friends offered to volunteer their time and effort to this ministry of providing gluten free Communion elements, in order to keep the price down. It is an act of service that is filled with prayer and compassion and faith. As fellow Christians we want to see everyone have the opportunity to meet with Jesus at the Lord’s Table, and we don’t want food allergies or the cost of specialty supplies to hinder anyone. This gift of godly love will help to postpone those supply cost increases for as long as we are able.
There’s one more beautiful thing I noticed during our volunteer time. I’ve heard a few pastors dismiss the idea of using a wafer for Communion because they want to use one loaf to break and share with the entire congregation. Now that I’ve seen firsthand that the unleavened wafers are made from one bread, broken for many, I am blessed by this thought. We don’t just break bread with those in our local congregation. We break bread with members of the church all over the world as portions are sent across the globe.