Compak Corporation president Jim Johnson found the perfect test group to market his ready-to-use, hermetically double-sealed Communion: February's largest gathering in history of clergy (CT, April 9, 1996, p. 88).
Since then, his Chicago-based company has been receiving 700 written inquiries daily about the product: a plastic cup of juice or wine and unleavened bread wafer. More than 4,000 churches are now using the disposable prepackaged sacraments, Celebration Cup. (Broadman & Holman Publishers is marketing the cup to Southern Baptist churches and Christian bookstores under the name Remembrance.)
"It's convenient, economical, and safe," says Johnson, 50.
At Johnson's home church in Portland, Oregon, preparation time for 2,800 congregants shrank to 40 minutes from 10 hours--time needed for pouring and cleanup of regular plastic cups. The cup is sold in boxes of 210 or 500, which fit existing Communion trays. Unused packages can be used the following week, month, or quarter, depending on Communion frequency. The product has a shelf life of one year.
Johnson's company, backed by a group of Christian investors, spent $4 million to design and build equipment that would form the cups, seal the juice, then the wafer, at a high speed.
Some find the concept of a mass-marketed sacrament irreverent or impersonal, but Johnson told CT, "It's more important that you do it than how you do it."
He also has heard complaints that his is a fast-food approach to the Lord's Supper. "Jesus provided the first fast-food meal when he fed the multitudes," Johnson said.
The cup has been popular with people in ministries to shut-ins, prisoners, the hospitalized, as well as those on the mission field. Johnson predicts sales of 150 million units this year, ...1