Given current concerns over the Coronavirus, a recent PCC meeting discussed some of the ways in which we can minimise risks of spreading disease when we come together as a church. Given that the church is a place where people from different ages and health come together, within our congregation on a Sunday there will be those who are in contact with lots of people and those who may have immune deficiencies.
Regarding Coronavirus itself, the World Health Organisation has declared that this is a public health emergency of international concern, but the number of cases in the UK is very small and good preparation is in place. It has led the Archdeacon of London to send a guidance note this week, the following is in line with that guidance as well as reflecting the conversation of the All Saints PCC.
If you aren’t well, then it is worth considering those who may have a weaker immunity than yourself. There are facial tissues at the back of church, please use them and as the current advertising says, catch it, bin it, kill it. It is important to also wash hands. There will also be a bottle of sanitiser in church to help to reduce the spread of germs.
At All Saints we are very exuberant in the way we share the peace – this is lovely to see. However, if you are feeling unwell do be mindful of those who have lower immunity than yourself. Similarly if you are concerned about catching something from others then don’t feel you can’t participate in this part of the service. It is perfectly possible to share the peace without shaking hands, one way to indicate that is your intention is to hold your hands together while saying ‘peace be with you.’
The Eucharist and Intinction
Intinction is the practice of dipping the bread wafers into the wine. The wafers, having already been in each person’s hands before they go into the wine can impart any of the germs on your hands into the wine. It is also not uncommon for fingers to go into the wine. Dipping the bread wafer into the wine also has implications for those who are gluten intolerant as traces of gluten are more likely to enter the wine. A full analysis of the relative risks of infection was done by a doctor on behalf of the Church in Canada some years ago and it is available online.
We are therefore asking people not to dip their bread into the wine. The precious metal of the chalice and the nature of one’s mouth actually means there is a smaller risk of spreading a disease by drinking from the chalice. It is worth saying that it is standard practice in many other churches in London not to allow intinction.
Receiving in one Kind
There are then two options remaining: to receive the wine by sipping from the common cup, or to receive only the bread (i.e. receiving only in one Kind). It is definitely worth considering not receiving the wine from the chalice if you are aware that you could be in some way infectious or if you feel uncomfortable receiving the wine.
According to our beliefs as Christians you receive fully of the sacrament whether you participate in only the bread. The bread and wine are both considered to fully embody the real presence of Christ at the Eucharist. Receiving in one kind is therefore considered to be no less ‘effective’ than receiving in two kinds.
Similarly if one is uncomfortable with drinking alcohol, even if it is a part of the sacrament, they can be sure of the fact they are fully participating in the Lord’s supper by only receiving the bread.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to Fr Robin about this, please don’t hesitate to ring the church office number (0207 435 3182).