Coronavirus - Guidance for parishes

We appreciate that there has been growing concern within the Diocese as the spread of the Coronavirus comes closer to home.

In response, we are sharing advice, in line with the national advice issued by the Church of England regarding best practice, in the context of worship, in preventing the spread of viruses including the Coronavirus.

This incorporates the advice given by the World Health Organisation with current wisdom.

While the World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak of Coronavirus to be a global emergency, it says it has done so in order to provide extra support to lower and middle-income countries with weaker health systems that might not be able to spot or isolate cases of Coronavirus.

The disease appears to present a particular risk to elderly people and those with a pre-existing health conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) and particular care should be taken to protect such people.

It should be noted this is general good practice, and not something that needs to increase alarm in our congregations.

Advice for Holy Communion

  1. Wash hands: Priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers are reminded to follow proper hand washing and hand sanitizing techniques. We strongly advise the use of hand sanitizers immediately before the Preparation of the Table and Eucharistic prayer.
  2. Avoid intincting: Intinction (dipping), often thought to be a practice at the time of communion which reduces the risk of contagion, may actually increase such risk. Our hands are far more likely to be a source of contagious pathogens than lips. For instance, those with gluten intolerance for whom traces of gluten can be hazardous are at greater risk when other communicants have dipped their communion wafer into the wine. Thus intincting the consecrated bread into the chalice introduces any germs on our hands into the consecrated wine.
  3. Consider receiving Holy Communion in one kind:  It is Anglican teaching that to receive the sacrament in one kind only is to receive the sacrament in its entirety. Should a communicant not wish to drink from the chalice then he or she ought to receive the consecrated bread alone.
  4. The Peace: In welcoming and greeting each other in church and as we exchange the Peace we will often shake hands. By washing hands thoroughly before leaving home and by using clean handkerchiefs/tissues we can help to reduce the risk of infection significantly. Those who are conscious they need to prevent infection (either because they are ill or particularly vulnerable) may wish also to use antiseptic rinses or gels.
  5. Visiting: Pastoral visitors to homes and hospitals should observe all precautions in personal hygiene before and after such visits.

If there are further significant developments, we will monitor the Church of England website and update any advice and guidance, likely via the website.

We pray
We encourage parishes to pray for those infected by the coronavirus in China and around the world, for those who care for them, for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection, and of course for all who at this time are feeling anxious, especially for those with friends and family in China.

Copyright 2015 © The Diocese of Rochester. Registered Office: St Nicholas’ Church, Boley Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SL. Registered Charity No. 249339 The Rochester Diocesan Society and Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 140656