Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As many of you have heard, the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will likely spread within the United States. As community leaders of faith, we are in a unique position to provide a calm, prayerful presence, while also taking the precautionary measures necessary. Episcopal Relief and Development reminds us that our role in our communities during times of crisis are:
- Combat fear with knowledge in order to encourage preparedness and decrease stigma.
- Maintain operational continuity and continue worship life in the case of potential quarantine and disruption.
- Show God’s compassion and care to those in our communities who are affected.
In the meantime, there are common sense preventative measures that can be put in place now to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as other illnesses such as the flu:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.
- Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, handling diapers, preparing food or using the bathroom.
- Stay home if you are feeling ill.
As it relates specifically to our worship together, there are ways to modify our practices to help prevent the spread of illness:
- Remind congregants not to come to church or meetings if they feel ill
- Encourage clergy to wash hands with soap and water before services and use hand sanitizer before distributing communion; also provide hand sanitizer for congregational use
- If desired by the congregation, adapt rituals to minimize personal contact
- Communion: those who are ill should stay home; those who are concerned may abstain from communion or receive “in one kind” (host only);
- use of the common cup with proper purificator procedure presents relatively low risk;
- intinction should be avoided because our hands carry more germs than our mouths do. This data point may be counterintuitive to many, and we encourage you to explain it in your faith communities.
- Sharing of the Peace: waving is perfectly acceptable in place of shaking hands or hugging.
Episcopal Relief and Development has a number of other resources that can be useful to you as a faith leader, particularly as you look to shepherd and inform those under your care.
Click here to find them.
The Minnesota Department of Health provides is and will continue to monitor the situation locally. They will provide recommendations should the virus make its way to Minnesota. They have a robust website with resources, recommendations and information about the virus and ways in which they will respond.
Click here to find these resources
Know that your ECMN Missioners and leaders are monitoring the situation, and are committed to providing resources and information as it becomes available.