A suspected case of swine flu among the non-communicant membership of one of the congregations! (one of the toddlers unfortunately). She is at home, warm and being looked after by those who care deeply for her, and being dosed on calpol and baby ibuprofen, after reacting unfavourably to toddler tamiflu!
How to deal with it in 2 congregations where there has been lots of hugging, handling and assisting to walk of the young lady in question? Carry on as normal, but inform the congregation there is a suspected (not confirmed) case and let them decide for themselves whether or not to take the common cup – seemed the most sensible option. Communion continued as normal, and as far as I am aware, no one chose not to recieve the common cup (apart from the one or two who have done since the moratorium on intinction). By far the majority response was concern and prayers for wee A, and her mum & dad (please feel free to join the resounding throng of prayer for her – absolutely awful way to spend a first birthday!)
When the flu pandemic first hit in Scotland, this is the advice I gave to the congregations, and is how I will continue to treat the situation for now:
Until further clear direction from the College of Bishops, or unless there are cases within our congregations, Holy Communion will continue to be available to all who wish to receive in our usual manner, with the following stipulations:
If you have flu symptoms, please stay home and get well! Phone the Rector, and Communion will be brought to you.
Sharing of the common cup will continue for now, but intinction (the practice of dipping the bread in the wine) is an unacceptable way of receiving both elements as it is a more likely method of spreading bacteria. If you would prefer to receive in one kind, that is an acceptable way of receiving communion.
It may be in the future that we have to suspend use of the common cup, this will only occur on guidance from health officials and the College of Bishops.
All servers, sacristans, Eucharistic Ministers and Celebrants will be using a 60% ethanol based hand gel before touching the Communion vessels and elements, and prior to the administration of communion.
If you live alone, or in an isolated area, and are unable to follow the recommended advice to have a “flu friend” who will collect antivirals should you be diagnosed, please phone the rector, who will perform this function for you.