You can’t help but notice the coronavirus is a big deal right now. I’ve revised this article twice now, with new news changing what I thought needed to be said. COVID-19, its official name, is usually leading the newscasts and the first thing seen on newspapers and internet news sites. We get regular updates on new places it is showing up. Just last night Ball State went to an all-online format for its classes. All this leads to many asking, “What is going to happen around church?”
First, we have to acknowledge there are many unknowns here. We are still learning how far the virus’s effects will reach. In the meantime, though, it seems some very basic things will help us. Regular and thorough handwashing, which is a good practice in all seasons, is important. If you are sick, please stay home. We’re glad you would want to come to church, but please do your Christian sisters and brothers a big favor by staying home during sickness. You can still hear sermons on our website, but please keep in mind some in church might already have health challenges, and further sickness would be particularly difficult, so please stay close to home in times of sickness.
Some have asked if we would need to suspend Sunday morning worship for a time. As of the time of this writing, the Governor of Kentucky, who coincidentally is a member of a Disciples of Christ church, is calling on churches in his state to not meet this Sunday. If civil authorities around here ask this of us, I’m sure we will follow that lead. Right now we don’t know, but if it comes to that we could offer a virtual service that could be viewed on your computer or smartphone from your home. We don’t know, yet, if that will be necessary, but it is possible.
Some have asked, too, if we would change our communion practices. We usually offer both communion by intinction (taking a piece of bread from the loaf and dipping it in the cup) as well as trays with communion wafers and small cups of juice. We are looking at using only the trays rather than intinction for the time being. One possibility we might consider is a stacked-cup method, where a wafer of bread is in one cup with a cup of juice stacked on top of it (we’re still figuring this all out at the time of this writing).
Germs are spread at church through handshaking, so offer a fist-bump or an elbow-bump as an alternative. I usually shake hands with people when they are leaving worship, but I will hold off on this practice for the time being. If you want to say hello, please just offer me an elbow to bump, or you could just give me a wave.
In the meantime, do your best to stay informed. We’ll do our best around church, too, and adjust as we see the need.
Grace & peace,