Thursday, July 23, 2009

(S)wine flu

A couple of days after we decided at the parish staff meeting to stop giving wine at Communion, the Church of England has followed our lead:

It now seems right to offer guidance at a national level about how the
Church of England’s worship might best take into account the interests of public
health during the current phase of the swine flu pandemic.

The Department of Health have recently advised us that “in a pandemic
it makes good sense to take precautions to limit the spread of disease by not
sharing common vessels for food and drink”.

In the light of this advice, we recommend those presiding at Holy Communion
suspend the administration of the chalice during this wave of pandemic
flu. For those who still wish to offer in both kinds, we recommend
the practice whereby the presiding minister, whose hands should have been washed
with the appropriate alcohol based rub before handling the elements and the
vessels, personally intincts all wafers before placing them in the hands of
communicants. This is a practice widely observed in Anglican churches throughout
Africa. Communicants receiving in this way need to be confident that the clergy
and all assistant ministers follow the relevant guidance on hygiene.

this has gone to all the diocesan bishops, some of whom were ahead of the game and had advised this already.

Great news for any parishes which were thinking about changing from grape juice to fortified wine, or vice versa, as you can introduce it after the break after 'sustained theological reflection'. Actually, it'll be easier to introduce the alcholic stuff, as that truly will be for 'medicinal purposes'.

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