First, I would encourage all people to read what our wonderful bishop had to share in the diocesan newsletter, which I have also shared on our website regarding this virus.
Second, while there haven’t yet been any confirmed cases of this illness in Montana, it is likely just a matter of time until it is among us and to that end, we should take some minor precautions. To that end I think that the following practices should be considered:
– Passing the peace is about acknowledging our neighbors and as “a sign of reconciliation, love and renewed relationships in the Christian community (An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church).” But, nothing in the BCP tells us that we must shake hands or hug others as a sign of this peace. So, for now, I would encourage non-touching signs of exchanging the peace to minimize possible contamination.
– Please wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer
– The chalice is not likely to be a source of infection. As our bishop said, “the common communion cup has never been implicated in a disease outbreak and has been laboratory tested with a variety of infectious agents provided the chalice is silver (plate is fine), wine is used (especially port, which has a higher alcohol content) and the chalice is wiped and rotated between receiving communicants.”
The bigger risk when it comes to the chalice, is from intinction (or dipping) the host/communion wafer into the wine. That increases the chances of contamination of other sorts. So if you choose to intinct, please be very careful to not dip a finger into the liquid. Above all, please remember that communion in both kinds (bread and wine/Body and Blood) is not required and isn’t even the historical standard, so please do not feel obligated to partake.
– The number one item is that if you feel like you are sick, please stay home and consult with a healthcare professional. As a side note, Father Stephen’s sermons are available on our website if you miss church.
As events and circumstances change, we might need to adapt further, but for now take care of yourselves and let us strive to live in hope, not fear. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me or our office.