With public schools being closed for the next three weeks, and numerous events and public gatherings canceled, we know that many of you have questions about the church’s response to the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. While Governor Mike DeWine’s ban on gatherings of more than 100 people exempts religious gatherings, attendance at a single service at St. Andrew’s seldom exceeds 100, so we are planing to hold Saturday and Sunday worship services as scheduled.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that those over 60 and those suffering from underlying compromised immune systems are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from this virus. The older or more compromised a person is, the greater the risk becomes. Please take these warnings to heart in considering your exposure to the public.
We are also taking these additional precautions:
- After further research and consideration, we are asking parishioners to refrain from intinction throughout this current coronavirus outbreak, as the hands are a primary vehicle for the spread of viruses.
- As we’ve mentioned previously, the best information we have from the CDC is that the risk of transmission of disease from the use of a common Communion cup is “very low.” The risk is further diminished by appropriate safeguards, such as wiping the interior and exterior rim and rotating the cup between communicants, and the use of a clean cloth for each service. These are all practices that we follow. We’ve received no further directive from the CDC. If you are in any way uncomfortable receiving from the common cup, we assure you that receiving just the bread is a complete and valid communion. If you don’t wish to receive the wine, simply return to your seat after receiving the bread.
- Clergy and chalicists will wash their hands thoroughly before the service and use hand sanitizer prior to administering Communion.
- We ask that you refrain from making physical contact during The Peace for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak. A smile or a verbal greeting will be most appreciated.
- We have removed the holy water stoops inside the doors to the sanctuary for the duration of the outbreak, as the water, while changed frequently, is stagnant.
- We continue to make recommended virus protection supplies—tissues, hand sanitizer, and trash cans—available throughout the building.
- We will be offering pre-packaged goodies at coffee hour, and are asking those preparing the coffee and other beverages, and handling coffee supplies, to wear gloves.
We cannot stress enough that individuals who are sick, or have compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions, stay home during this outbreak. If you have a fever, we also ask that you not attend church services or events until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours. If you contract the COVID-19 virus, please abide by the quarantine conditions.
If you’re unable to attend services in person, remember that our 11 a.m. service is live-streamed weekly on YouTube. You can find our livestream feed by clicking on “Our YouTube Channel” under the “Media” drop-down menu on the main page of our website, standrewspolaris.org. Please also endeavor to keep your giving current while you’re unable to be in church, as the parish’s expenses continue. You may give online, or mail your gift to the church at 7521 S. Old State Road, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035.
I also want to encourage you to pray to our Lord Jesus Christ during this trial. Especially pray for those who are most at risk and for those who are under duress because of the many closings and cancellations. This is a time when our faith can provide great comfort to us as we are struggling with these changes.
St. Paul reminds us that it is when we are weak that we are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) We know that all things work for good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28), so we place our trust in his fatherly care. We will get through this together and will be stronger for it as long as we follow our medical professionals’ recommendations and trust in God to guide and protect us.
Please watch your email, our website, and social media for any further updates. And, as always, please let us know if you have any pastoral needs by calling the parish office at 740-548-5112, or contacting one of our clergy directly. Their contact information is available on the Member Connection.
In His holy name, Fr. Ron Baird
Additional recommendations from the CDC
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, or “Jesus Loves Me” once), especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Dispose of used tissues in a waste can.
• Contact your health provider if you have a fever, cough and shortness of breath.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask: The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.