Dear Companions in Christ,
A Holy Lent to you.
As you are likely already well aware, federal health officials have warned that it is anticipated that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) will probably spread into the United States. While there are not any confirmed cases in Connecticut, it has been recommended that churches, businesses, schools, and hospitals take necessary precautions.
There are basic steps each of our communities within the Episcopal Church in Connecticut can follow to minimize risk for our parishes and people, and the ministries to which they contribute or by which they are served.
We highly recommend reviewing the sound advice on precautions provided by the World Health Organization
here on their website
. Information is available in English, Spanish and other languages. Additional resources can be found at the links that follow.
As during any flu season, some initial actions we encourage you to pursue are:
- Wash your hands frequently, using soap and water or an alcohol-based rub.
- Practice keeping a safe distance in social interactions. In general, maintain a distance of a few feet between you and others, particular those who are coughing, sneezing, or evidently ill.
- At the peace consider exchanging the peace of the Lord without touching.
- Try to avoid intinction in receiving the Eucharist as fingers and hands carry viruses and other pathogens. Receiving in only one kind (in this case, the bread) is also a full and sufficient participation in the sacrament.
- Practice respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing; discard tissues immediately in closed bins.
- Avoid shaking hands at the doorway after the service and other physical greetings.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Any parishes involved in ministries in which food is served (including coffee hour!) should give particular attention to The WHO recommendations regarding food safety.
- If anyone feels ill or unwell, they should, as a general rule, seek medical care immediately and not attend parish events.
- Related to this, if someone who is elderly or lives alone does not appear at church in what would otherwise be a regular function, create systems for wellness checks.
Caring for each other and for all the people of God means being careful in the midst of uncertainty. By staying informed and prepared, we can keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy, while maintaining our worship life and parish functions.
We will continue to monitor the development of the spread of COVID-19 and will be in touch as information updates. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need any assistance. And please keep all affected by this disease in your prayers:
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens