H1N1 virus affects church customs

Churches are balancing hospitality and welcome with prudence when it comes to the sharing of germs due to ongoing concerns about the H1N1 Virus.

Religious congregations in Maryland change customs with flu

From the Gazette.net in Damascus, Maryland

The First Baptist Church of Ken-Gar is traditionally a “hugging congregation.” But to slow the spread of germs, especially the H1N1 flu virus, the Rev. Carl Davis said he has urged his flock to make do with a wave and a smile.

“It makes it kind of hard because we want to be about hugging, about love,” Davis said. “But now, we’ll just, say, look at someone and tell them ‘I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ We just need to be aware of how not to spread germs.”

Several area congregations are taking precautions in the wake of the swine flu outbreak, opting for hand sanitizer over holy water.

Experts offer advice for keeping germs at bay during cold-and-flu season

From the Spokesman Review, WA

In Episcopal Church services, people “pass the peace.” In Catholic Church services, Mass-goers exchange the “kiss of peace.”

Both rituals are usually done by friendly handshakes, and it’s nearly impossible to refuse those hands outstretched in peace.

The etiquette strategies for this translate to any public situation where it might appear rude not to shake hands.

Lindburg, the Kleenex-sneezer from Newport, has allergies. In church recently, the woman next to her wouldn’t shake her hand, intimidated by her minor coughs and sneezes. Lindburg felt hurt.

So what to do?

From Coston, the flu blogger: “Carry sanitizer. The minute you are done, squirt your hands and rub them together.”

North Eastern Pennsylvania preps to fight swine flu

From the Scranton Times-Tribune, PA

It is often said that cleanliness is next to godliness.

At St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Scranton, it is next to the rear pew, just steps inside the door.

Three weeks ago, the church at 232 Wyoming Ave. placed an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser at the back of the nave, an attempt to lessen the potential spread of the H1N1 flu virus among parishioners.

“I think some people may have raised eyebrows,” acknowledged parishioner Greg Hinson, a Community Medical Center pharmacist who was part of the St. Luke’s committee that recommended installation of the utilitarian dispenser, which seems oddly out of place amid the solemn grandeur of the church.

“We are trying to promote a rational approach to this without scaring people.”

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