So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
In the wake of news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) I feel obligated to write to encourage you and to remind you of a few simple changes that can help us all minimize the chances of contracting or spreading disease.
- Make it a common practice to thoroughly wash your hands (at least 20 seconds with soap and water) when heading into or returning from public events.
- Clergy members and Eucharistic Ministers should wash their hands and consider using an anti-bacterial gel before offering worshippers communion.
Refrain from intinction where possible (dipping the bread in the cup). If needed, have only a single person administering communion in this manner…
- I advise using the following protocol if intincting:
The clergy distributes the consecrated Host (we advise the use of flat wafers rather than bread) with a Eucharist Minister walking next to them with the Chalice. The clergy should intinct the wafer in the wine and place it in the hands of the communicant, rather than the mouth, to avoid any contact with tongue or lips. The communicant receiving the sacrament should be the one who places the sacrament in her/his mouth.
- Please note it is not necessary to take both bread and wine during Holy Eucharist. Receiving just the ‘BODY’ is sacramentally sufficient and still reflects the full nature of Christ in his sacramental presence.
Consider an alternative form of greeting during the Passing of the Peace…
- Continue to verbally share the Peace of the Lord reverentially with those around you either by slightly bowing your head or offering a friendly wave.
We need to be extremely cautious in communicating this interim approach in order to avoid any sense of panic or confusion. Clergy are excellent professionals in showing and communicating pastorally sensitive matters that may affect our faith and practice. I am confident we will continue to do our very best to engage the present reality in our worship and pastoral community with Christ-like compassion and calm. At the end of the day, clergy are the ones best situated to decide the most appropriate approach in their respective context.
I would strongly advise that we don’t allow this health issue to define our life or unduly influence how we go about our daily routine. However, if you feel any flu like or suspicious symptoms, please be responsible to your neighbors and stay away from gatherings.
The diocese will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves paying particular attention to directives/advice coming from our state officials. Two websites we recommend for more information are:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Episcopal Relief and Development
In the meantime, we turn to the One in whom we place our ultimate trust:
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Right Rev. Santosh K. Marray
XI Bishop of Easton