Addressing Parishioners Concerns about Flu and the Coronavirus

Clergy and Members of the Diocese:

As the flu season continues, and amid growing concerns about the possible spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, now is a good time to remind everyone about best practices for hygiene during Eucharist and other services.

During Eucharist and the Peace
Parishioners who are coughing or sneezing should refrain from handshaking during the Peace. Fist bumps, elbow bumps, friendly waves, and peace signs are all acceptable substitutes.

Churches should make hand-sanitizers available for parishioners to use. Sanitize hands before and after contact with others.

Assure parishioners that the entire altar party will be washing their hands before the service and will use hand sanitizer before the Liturgy of the Table.

Strongly discourage intinction (the dipping of the bread into the wine). Intinction does little to avoid the spread of disease and may actually increase the spread, as the bread or wafer spends more time in the (possibly unclean) hand before being dipped in the wine.

There has never been much evidence of risk of disease associated with the shared communion cup. But if parishioners are concerned, remind them it is acceptable to 1) abstain from communion, or 2) receive “in one kind” (host only). Let them know how to indicate this preference at the altar rail – by crossing their arms over their chest right after receiving the host. The chalicer will then know they do not wish to take the communion cup.

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