I have had a number of requests for some advice or instruction in terms of the Coronavirus from the Diocese. I am keen for parishes to have maximum freedom to work out what works best in each of their own contexts… but I offer the following as recommendations from the Diocese.
1) Firstly, as Christians we trust in the Lord. As more and more people engage in panic that is contagious I pray that we will set a good example of calm, wise, selfless and self-controlled behaviour, confident that we are in the Lord’s hands. This is not an excuse for laziness or foolishness but an exhortation that we keep our heads as others may lose theirs.
2) Secondly, we are called to be good citizens so we should be following any guidelines or instructions issued by our national or local governments. As ministry leaders (and therefore community leaders) it would be prudent for us to keep up to date with current information and advice (as it is constantly changing). The best place to do that is https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
3) Thirdly, we need to consider our Church practices. Presently there is no call to cease public gatherings in New Zealand but I give the following suggestions…
– encourage church members feeling ill to stay home.
– provide alcohol-based hand sanitisers (60% alcohol) at the entrance to our church buildings.
– work out what you will do for Sharing the Peace (to shake hands or not to)
– Be deliberate with what you do with the Lord’s Supper. All the best advice seems to suggest that the Common Cup is safe from spreading infection, provided that a silver chalice is used (it has anti-bacterial qualities), is wiped with a clean linen purificator and is turned after each communicant. However, the dipping of communion bread/wafers into wine (“intinction”) should be refrained from due to the risk of fingers coming into contact with the wine. Although the Common Cup is, I believe, safe, the use of individual cups may be helpful in this context. Please make sure that all those presiding or distributing communion clean/sanitise their hands thoroughly.