Taking Communion and the Coronavirus
Since news broke of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the UK, I have been liaising with the Archdeacon on the action we should be taking to minimise any risk of infection through the administration of Holy Communion. The Archdeacon has now forwarded some specific advice from the national church as follows:
The presiding priest and servers should use hand sanitising gel to clean their hands immediately before the preparation of the communion elements. [you may be encouraged to know that the Ministry Team had already decided to take this step]
Members of the congregation should not “intinct” (i.e. dip the wafer or bread into the wine). There are two public health reasons why this is important:
Hands are a significant source of pathogens and are likely to introduce germs into the cup even if the fingers don’t touch the wine
Dipping wafers or bread will contaminate the wine in a way that threatens those with gluten intolerance
Both silver and alcohol are recognised as having anti-microbial properties (some NHS dressings are treated with silver) and, so long as the chalice is wiped after each communicant, the use of silver chalices is the best method of minimising the risk of infection passing. [the use of the gold chalice at St. Mary’s will be suspended for the time being].
If anyone is concerned about the risk of infection if is perfectly acceptable for them to receive the sacrament in one kind only (i.e. just the bread). Anglican teaching is that this is as valid as receiving the sacrament in its entirety.
At this time there is no need to refrain from sharing the Peace, although we should be sensitive towards those who might wish to use words only.
I will continue to monitor the public health advice closely and I have asked the Archdeacon to pass on any changes to the above advice as soon as they are made. If any of you have any particular concerns, please feel free to contact me.
May I also encourage you to continue to pray for those infected by the virus in China and around the world and for the doctors and other specialists treating them and working to halt the spread of infection.