Sunday, September 20, 2009

Putting the Wine back into Swine Flu

Just had some new guidance from our Diocese (Bath and Wells) which says that, given the dip in swine flu cases, churches can go back to having bread and wine if they want to:

we are content that incumbents and priest-in-charge, in consultation with their churchwardens, may resolve to return to the use of a common cup if they so desire, after careful consideration of the risks and factors involved. We append a helpful summary of some of the issues, which we hope you will take note of when making your decision.

This was also worth saying:

If people question the action that churches have taken in recent weeks, it is important to remind them that this has never been about ‘protecting ourselves’. It has been about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others. Furthermore, we have never suggested ‘banning the Peace’ and we regard it as important that worshippers have the opportunity to greet each other in this way.

Most intriguing:
physical exchanges between members of a congregation... are almost impossible to avoid* There must be some pretty rough churches in Somerset then. Our lot only fight amongst themselves once a month at the most. At least I think it's fighting they're talking about.

Meanwhile here's the real issue.

* the omitted words are either directly or indirectly (through touching church furniture, for example), but I just took them out for fun...


  1. Definitely good timing, given the number of cases per week doubled last week.

    I hope I'm wrong, but the word "exponential" is the one that always worries me when it comes to diseases. It could only be a month before this guidance is reversed again.

  2. Actually it's probably a good idea to get this one out of the way now while there is plenty of Tami-flu (and fit health workers) available, so this could be a cunning strategy!

  3. Interesting wording of the letter from the Diocese, as far as I was aware it was only ever a recommendation from the Archbishops to suspend to the chalice, and it was left to local decision, hence why in a number of places incumbents chose not to suspend in the first place.

  4. G, exponential is a good description of how the interest in swine flu has declined over recent weeks and how the actual disease will decline as soon as jabs are available. The people who in the early summer were predicting exponential growth now have a lot of egg on their faces. Are you still listening to their scaremongering? I don't think anyone else is.

    My own church went back to distributing the cup last week, although the "Temporary Chalice Ban" is still on the Chelmsford diocesan website.