Episco-Fact #177
February 27, 2020

FRANCISCO-FACT: When it there is an outbreak such as the coronavirus, is it safe to take communion?

Every flu season is a time fraught with concerns about health, communion, and the common cup. This year, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, many more are concerned and many more deeply concerned about this issue.

Some things we are aware of here at St. Francis: this flu season has not yet been particularly bad. The Creche School, staff of the church, and Sunday attendance has not been depressed compared to recent years. And, though we state this cautiously, the coronavirus has not yet become a major issue among the people affiliated with the church. In a season of caution, however, below are some things to consider:

Here are best practices that we do know of around flu season and any season when infections, both viral and bacterial, are prominent. If you are sneezing and coughing because of an upper respiratory infection, do not shake hands in the passing of the peace. There are already parishioners who take this tack routinely, we nod to each other and exclaim the greeting. It works well for them and those around them.

If you are sneezing or coughing from an upper respiratory infection, do not drink or instinct in the cup. At most times drinking from the cup is actually safer than intinction (see this link: https://www.anglican.ca/faith/worship/pir/euc-practice-infection/) . Intincture, or dipping the bread into the wine is the least safe way to go about communion, especially when the person intincting dips his or her bread into the cup. Hands are now and have always been a prominent way to pass infections.

If you are concerned about communion and communicability, take communion in one kind, the bread, and skip the cup. The bread is only handled by the clergy and you may have notivced the clergy sanitize their hands before handling the bread and the wine. It cuts down the passing around of germs. Keep things in perspective at this time. There are many exposure avenues for infections and things we do at home or at work are at least as likely to transmit an infection as taking communion.

Updates will be given when we know more about concerns in Great Falls.

David