Are Churches Ready for COVID-19?
Will Corona Virus be bad in our area? Maybe it will go away or weaken, or not. Think about church life changes before the virus hits. Every church is different. Be flexible. Adapt to your situation.
First, hand washing is key! Hand gel is very useful. Can you arrange for all to wash hands or receive a dollop of hand gel on arrival? Keep one door open so people can come and go without touching door handles? Avoid shaking hands as part of a service or holding hands together in prayer? If you get virus on your hand and touch your face, you may get an infection. Clean hands are the most important way to avoid infection!
Second, passing offering plates, communion ware, and attendance registers passes germs down aisles. There are other ways to take attendance (cards, check lists) or offerings - poles with bags/baskets were once common.
Third, The Lord’s Supper. Keep your theology. Distinguish between doctrine and custom. The safer principle is to commune in small groups. This can be applied differently. We commune small groups, using wine in individual cups, at an Altar rail. Churches with Common Cup might avoid intinction-dipping bread in wine-or placing bread on the tongue; they might use a Silver Chalice, not Ceramic. Keep line time short. Churches that pass communion ware down aisles need to address hand contamination, as well as the risk someone may cough, sneeze or breathe on the elements and trays. Ask, “How can we adapt and be true to who we are?”
Fourth, in Sunday school give children a dollop of hand gel both when they come and go. Adapt children’s programs and church as needful to avoid sharing craft items. Single serve packaged snacks might be best.
Fifth spread out at worship. Put families/individuals three feet or more apart. Put personal items next to you and leave an extra eighteen inches between your personal items and your neighbor’s stuff. If a church does not have space for this they can temporarily add a service.
Sixth, clean doorknobs and bathroom faucets daily, if the building is in use. Shut off unused areas.
Seventh, think about how to adapt socials and dinners to avoid someone sneezing/coughing on everything. Avoid sharing stir spoons and salt/pepper shakers. Use sugar, salt and pepper packets, stir sticks etc.
I could say more. This is a start. One size does not fit all. Do not panic. Personalize your church plans.
Some dear soul will say, “God will care of us. Don’t worry.” They are correct. He will. You are God’s hands, one way he will care for His people. Remain faithful to your callings as God’s people.
Accept change. Be creative. Plan now. Be responsible. Act appropriately in a timely way.
(Editor’s Note: This column is written by a different Littlefield pastor for the Leader-News each week. The columns are published on this page on Wednesdays.)