Only three percent of the 170 worshipers at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church need special bread for Holy Communion. But the Rev. Adam J. Shoemaker, who serves as rector, said it’s not about the numbers. “It’s an easy enough gesture to do to extend a hand of welcome,” Shoemaker said. St. Stephen’s is one of several local churches that offer gluten-free bread during the Holy Eucharist to accommodate parishioners with celiac disease and other sensitivities.

Grace Church Cathedral and First Scots Presbyterian Church in Charleston do the same. The Holy Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, is a Christian rite which honors the biblical story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples before his crucifixion. In the event, Jesus referred to the wheat bread as his body and wine as his blood and tells his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me.” Historically, many churches have kept with tradition and served wine and wheat-only bread, which contains gluten, a protein found commonly in wheat. READ MORE