I write this week as we continue to hear news about the spread of the novel coronavirus and an increase in infections in the United States. While the number of cases here is relatively low compared to other places in the world, there is still quite a bit of concern about ways in which we can balance the need for diligence in maintaining health while continuing to engage in our common activities of gathering for worship, study, service, and fellowship.
Our denomination, through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance agency, has published a guide which can be found here: https://pda.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/pda/pdfs/preparedness_for_pandemics.pdf
In short, this document outlines ways in which we might address concerns: “Churches will need to decide on the proper mix of isolation (cancelling activities) versus maintaining or increasing community mission programs.” At this point, we are taking the following steps:
- Passing of the Peace during worship – You are encouraged to speak and gesture toward one another, without shaking hands or hugging; one suggested method will be modeled at the beginning of worship each week.
- Communion – The bread is handled only by those who have washed hands and have used alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We are preparing to have individual cups of wine or juice available, rather than dipping bread into a common cup.
- Hand sanitizer is available in restrooms, in the sanctuary, and in a dispenser on the wall near the Fellowship Hall. Please use it liberally!
- If you feel uncomfortable or simply prefer not to participate in a particular activity or offering, please refrain! There is no expectation that anyone will be forced to participate in something which makes them feel uncomfortable or which they feel puts their health at risk! This includes sharing in hospitality/food after church or during other gatherings together.
- IF YOU FEEL SICK, STAY HOME and seek medical attention!
We will continue to monitor the news and the information available about the spread of the coronavirus as well as other infectious diseases. As the situation changes or develops or dissipates, we will review decisions and notify all.
Please pray for those around the globe who are suffering with this recent illness and with other more deadly and more prevalent illnesses that our news media have not publicized with such consistent alarm.