You may have noticed over the last few weeks that Church ‘Greeters’ were not shaking hands as you walked in the front doors. Don’t worry, it’s not you--it’s the flu. More and more Churches all over the country are asking their leadership and congregation to greet one another verbally, nod the head, and not touch hands. Many Pastor’s and Church leaders are even asking the congregants to stay home if they are not feeling well.
The shaking of hands for Christians is not only a common greeting, but it’s offered to all who enter through the Church door as a sign of peace and welcome. Unfortunately it’s also helping spread the flu.
Father Matthew McGinness at St. Thomas Aquina, in Wichita KS has asked his parishioners not to offer this normal sign of peace. He told Lauren Seabrook from KWCH 12 "We do want to protect people and so we're not shaking hands." Source: Lauren Seabrook | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News.
This is not just happening in Wichita KS, but all over the country. NBC News reports that in Florida over 200,000 Catholic Churches have stopped shaking hands, hugs, laying hands on people for prayer, and taking Common Communion with the same cup. It's the same all over Texas, California, Nevada, and throughout theMidwest.
Julie McDonald of (WWLP) 22News reports: In Springfield, Mass., Church-goers are asked to bow or verbally exchange a greeting instead of shaking hands during the sign of peace. The use of the chalice at communion has also been removed until the end of flu season; most parishioners don't seem to mind. They say if they're taking precautions at home, it makes sense to at their places of worship as well.
"I think it's very good, because you have to be careful. And I work in a bank and we're constantly using Purell, going in the back, washing our hands,” a churchgoer told 22News. Those who do have flu symptoms or other illnesses are asked to stay away from services until they're feeling better. - Read Julie’s report here.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- The flu out break hit earlier than usual and although the vaccine was sent out earlier this year, it didn't arrive before the flu hit.
- Just during the week of February 10th through 17th there were fourteen pediatric deaths associated with the virus.
- Since the beginning of this flu season a total of twenty deaths have been reported in association with the flu.
- 47 States are currently reporting large numbers of those infected.
Churches trying to prevent the spreading of the flu can also be proactive by practical preventative actions like:
- Keeping stocked up on bottles of hand sanitizer. It's a good idea to have them in every classroom, foyer, alter, sanctuary, and prayer room.
- Making sure you're washing your hands frequently.
- Being proactive about the normal covering of coughs and sneezes, and then aggressive hand washing.
Many are even suggesting that a namaste — an Indian tradition of pressing palms together in front of the chest — followed by a gentle bow might be a polite gesture until the influenza outbreak subsides.
Maybe it seems a little strange to go to church and not shake hands, share communion, or lay hands on each other in prayer, but by temporarily making a few changes the Church can do a lot in the fight against this virus.
What is your Church doing to help fight off and bring awareness about the flu?
Have you or your family caught the flu from someone at your Church?
Comment below or email me: SamuelwConnelly@gmail.com
For more information and some great resources on this flu season:
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