Faith Communities, Public Gatherings and the Coronavirus

What a difference a week makes! The coronavirus was hardly a blip on our radar screens in America until it made its presence known in Northern Italy. (I suspect there is some hidden, or not so hidden, racism at play here. But that’s a topic for another post!) Suddenly, news of this virus is everywhere and each of us has had to wrestle with how we respond to what will most likely be a global pandemic.

As the leader of a faith community, I knew I had to be proactive in coming up with a protocol to keep everyone as safe as possible as we gather for worship and other social events. Below is the short version of this protocol which I sent to everyone who is a part of my faith community. It was well received and people appreciated me acting on this before the coronavirus hits our city (it will). If you belong to a faith community, coven, or other spiritual group that meets regularly, I think it’s imperative that we all have this discussion NOW as we seek to take good care of each other. Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling:

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We, as a community of faith, need to take good care of each other. Here are some basic precautions that will help to prevent the spread of germs in our faith community:

If you don’t feel well, please stay home. If public gatherings become prohibited/limited we will find a way to offer worship online.

Greet people warmly. Be creative. We can all say “Hello,” without a handshake or hug, especially if the coronavirus is reported in our area.

Wash your hands, Wash your hands. Wash your hands. All worship leaders in my faith community will wash their hands before serving communion. We will drink from individual cups on a tray. People who attend worship are also encouraged to wash their hands as they enter the building.

Passing the Peace. We’re a friendly bunch in my faith community so we’ll continue to pass the peace minus the handshakes and hugs. People are asked to flash a peace sign, do an “air” high 5, elbow bump, or a simple bow. (We did this on Sunday and it went over well.)

Check in with each other. Everyone needs all the support and encouragement they can get. If people in my faith community discover someone is sick, they are asked to let me know ASAP. If people become confined to their homes, as individuals or as a community, I have pledged to check in with everyone at least once a week. Thanks to modern technology I hope to video chat if possible and call them on the phone if not. I have also encouraged everyone to check in regularly with each other and see what needs are out there that we could meet as individuals and as a faith community.

Don’t forget the ministry of the our faith community continues even if gathering together is limited/prohibited. Checks can be mailed if necessary. If this is not possible (worse case scenario) we’ll find a way to get funds into our account, probably though an electronic option such as PayPal.

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I hope the information I shared is helpful to you. I believe it’s better to be calm and proactive rather than wait and be forced to make snap decisions as faith based communities. The coronavirus will either bring out the best in us or the worst in us. If we stay ahead of this virus, and rely on accurate information from sources such as the CDC and WHO, it will increase our chances that it will bring out the best in us.

Blessings to everyone!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin

About David Taliesin

My name is David Taliesin. I'm an writer, teacher and retreat leader who explores the connections between Christian and Pagan Spirituality. E-mail me with any personal comments you'd like to share and I will do my best to answer them. You can also contact me through my Facebook page
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