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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    No, A Pastor Was Not Just Defrocked for Failing to Serve Gluten-Free Communion

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--Daniel Lobo

    Celiac.com 04/12/2016 - A mainline Protestant pastor has not been found guilty of failing to serve gluten-free bread during communion and has not been defrocked for said indiscretion.

    Photo: CC--Daniel LoboAn article credited to one Ligonberry Fields, described as a "Buzzvine Contributor," recently appeared on the Christianpost and stated that one Frankie Shaver was relieved of her duties as senior pastor of Cheap Grace United Methodist Church on Wednesday, after being found guilty by a tribunal headed by members of the Kansas-Alabama Board of Ordained Ministry (KA BOOM).

    The article included what appear to be numerous attempts at humor, many lost or muddled due to questionable syntax.

    Consider this description of "one UMCer, who requested anonymity and gender inclusive language when speaking to the press." Per the article: "The, um, clergyperson then went on to explained that at his – derp! – their church, they only pretend to serve gluten free bread by having a person holding what appears to be morsels of gluten-less communion."

    Or this quote, attributed to Allie Nobel, member of KA BOOM: "What the former pastor of CG UMC did was inexcusable and worse yet, might have alienated the people we are desperately trying our best to cave in to."

    The dead giveaway might have been the part that read: "KA BOOM's explosive news has sent a shock wave among UMC clergy, who before this assumed that the punishment for being caught without gluten free bread was, at worst, being forced to write a 5,000-word Adam Hamilton book review."

    Beyond the headline, I'm not sure how any of this is supposed to be funny, though I take it that the writer intended this simply as wry, politically incorrect humor directed at gluten-free communion supporters, rather than as any direct disparagement of gluten-free communion supporters, in general, "clergypersons" (sic) included.

    But, since the article was not serious, no actual pastors were defrocked for failing to serve gluten-free communion. Which is a good thing, I think.

    Read more at Christianpost.com.


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    Yes, the article you refer to is very difficult to understand as it's so poorly written. I do think, however, I know what it's about. I believe it's actually sarcasm aimed at the United Methodist Church. It's not well-known outside of the church, but within we have wrangling over our welcome to the LGBTQI community. We have in the past few years seen pastors 'defrocked' for officiating at marriages of gay couples. There are United Methodists on both sides of the debate putting a lot of energy and heart into forwarding their view of the issue, and where they think the UMC should go from here. The group with the power to take away a pastor's credentials is United Methodist Board of Ordained Ministries (UMBOM). There are many United Methodists who believe strongly that a church isn't truly a church if it doesn't welcome all; we work toward inclusiveness in all ways, and that does indeed include inclusive language, which is also a target in this little piece. So, I don't think the gluten-free community is actually a target here; we are, as often happens lately, used as an example of a group that gets more consideration than it deserves. As a piece of sarcasm, the piece might have been effective and interesting, if only it had been better executed. I think it's aimed at those of us in the UMC who are striving for inclusion for all in our churches, although, try as I might, I can't be sure.

    And, for the record, our church uses only gluten-free bread (Schar baguettes) and grape juice instead of wine: safe for as many people as possible, and no gluteny bread even present that might cross-contaminate. For me, their celiac Director of Music, it's an important step toward inclusiveness.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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