Advice for church members and their ministers
By now, most people know what the symptoms of the Coronavirus are, how to try to avoid it, and what to do should they become ill. But how do we deal with the virus in the context of our Christian life? The situation is changing rapidly, and at the moment (Monday 15 March) there is no expectation that people should cancel their services. But it would be a good thing if every church prepares an implementation plan immediately. It is exceedingly important that ministers, especially, do all that is within their capability to try and avoid the virus.
AVOIDING THE VIRUS
Practising thorough, regular cleanliness routines by everybody, at all times is the best way to stop the virus from spreading. This includes washing your hands with soap and water for twenty seconds (maybe to the accompaniment of your favourite hymn?) before going to chapel and not shaking hands with anybody when you are there. It also would be a good idea to clean every doorknob, light switch etc with antibacterial liquid.
Because we do not drink from the same cup as other Christians in other traditions do, we may continue to offer the sacrament of Communion, but it is essentially important that those who prepare the Communion wash their hands thoroughly beforehand.
DEALING WITH THE VIRUS
Should you begin to feel ill, with a high temperature and a dry cough, the official advice is not to leave the house for at least a week (7 days). For most people, the New Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild virus, but if symptoms worsen, phone the special helpline: 111.
REACTING TO THE VIRUS AS A CHURCH
If a member of your congregation becomes ill, Public Health Wales will want the names of all who have been in close contact with the patient. It is possible that the chapel, or other venue used for holding services, will need to be deep cleaned in order to make sure it is clear from infection.
OPERATING IN A CHRISTIAN MANNER
- Supporting people who have self-isolated themselves in their home by phoning them or sending an email.
- Not visiting, but asking if they have enough food, medicine etc and offering to leave essential supplies on the doorstep.
- Supporting people through offering words of comfort and through prayer also.
Everybody that visits hospital, especially ministers, should know about the necessary hygiene measures that need to be taken when arriving at a ward.
VISITING RESIDENTIAL HOMES
Phoning ahead is essential before visiting a relative, friend or member. Many care homes are already asking visitors to keep away for the time being.