Liturgical Adjustments Due to COVID-19

A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN AND CATHEDRAL CHAPTER CONCERNING THE CORONAVIRUS

We in the Episcopal Church trust that when we receive Holy Communion, Jesus offers himself to us and joins our lives to his. Jesus’ gift of himself is most fully expressed under the form of Bread and Wine together, but those who receive only Bread or Wine do not in any way lessen the communion they have with Jesus. To those who can consume neither Bread nor Wine but who approach Holy Communion in faith, Jesus still gives himself fully.

Mindful of concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we offer the following guidelines and suggestions.

  • Thorough hand washing has been shown to kill COVID-19. All liturgical ministers (and other worshippers) should thoroughly wash with soap and water before services. Hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60% has also been shown to be effective against COVID-19, and all the ministers of Holy Communion will use it before the distribution.

At the Peace:

  • We encourage worshippers not to embrace or clasp hands but to greet one another and acknowledge one another, for example, with a bow. Health care professionals suggest that COVID-19 is most effectively transmitted from people’s hands to their faces, so avoiding hand-to-hand contact is a likely strategy for inhibiting infection.

At the time of the Holy Communion:

  • Studies by the CDC and other medical authorities have concluded that “the risk for infectious disease transmission by a common communion cup is very low, and appropriate safeguards – that is, wiping the interior and exterior rim between communicants, use of care to rotate the cloth during use, and use of a clean cloth for each service – would further diminish this risk.” At the Cathedral, we will incorporate those safeguards.
  • Those who nonetheless chose not to receive from the common cup can trust that Jesus’ offering of himself is complete in the Bread.
  • The practice of intinction, that is, dipping the consecrated Bread into the Wine, runs the risk of inserting fingers into the Wine. We will not allow intinction during the current health crisis.
  • Similarly, ministers will not distribute Communion on the tongue because of the risk of contaminating the fingers of the minister.

When the threat of a pandemic passes, we will return to our standard practices. In the meantime, we use this unfortunate outbreak as an opportunity to care for one another and to foster the health of the entire human community.

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