Friends in Christ,
I write to let you know how St. John’s will act to prevent a COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in our community. This is a moment to plan, not panic, remembering that God is with us through all of life’s uncertainties.
In consultation with the Vestry, and taking advice from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and The Episcopal Diocese of Florida, here are the steps that St. John’s will follow:
- We will continue to take the CDC’s main advice: wash our hands. There are hand sanitizer stations around the St. John’s campus for use before and after church. Priests and Eucharistic Ministers will sanitize their hands before serving the Eucharist.
- To help ensure the health and well-being of everyone in our church community, we remind you to please stay at home and rest if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
- At the Eucharist, we ask that everyone, including Eucharistic Ministers, refrain from intincting (dipping) the wafer in the chalice. Research tells us that the risk of contamination from fingers is far greater than that of sipping. Between the alcohol content of fortified wine, the antimicrobial properties of silver (we will use silver vessels immediately even though we started Lent with wood vessels), and the wiping of the rim, the risk of infection from sipping is low. If you are uncomfortable sipping from the chalice, please know that the Episcopal Church maintains that the full blessing of the Eucharist is available in only one element. You are welcome to take only the bread. If there is an outbreak in our community, St. John’s will offer only the bread during Eucharist.
- During the exchange of the Peace, we ask people to show signs of peace that do not involve touching, such as waving, bowing, nodding, or peace signs.
The clergy are currently working in partnership with our outreach and pastoral teams to plan for how we can best care for people affected by the coronavirus, especially poor and vulnerable populations. We will work to protect the safety of our staff and volunteers and care for God’s people with compassion and kindness.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
The Rev. David C. Killeen, Rector
Doug Sessions, Senior Warden