MIAMI, Florida – Traditionally, more people attend Christian churches during Easter and the 40 days of Lent leading up to it. However, this year, with the threat of coronavirus, some churches in South Florida are taking steps to prevent its spread—even if it means adjusting their traditional rituals.
On Tuesday, the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami recommended these measures to prohibit contracting or spreading the virus:
- Suspending the offering of the wine, which represents the blood of Jesus, during the sacrament of Holy Communion. In the Catholic and Episcopalian churches, worshipers share the wine offered by a priest or pastor from a singular vessel called a chalice.
- Suspending the traditional holding of hands during the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer by the general congregation services.
- Suspending physical contact, including handshaking during the traditional Peace greeting; a point during church services when worshippers offer each other “The Peace of the Lord.”
“(During the) sharing of the Peace: waving is perfectly acceptable in place of shaking hands or hugging,” Episcopal Relief & Development said in a summary of “faith-based responses” to the coronavirus.
Catholic ministers have also been encouraged to persistently use antibacterial soap before and after personal contact with worshippers.
The Muslim community is also taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Several mosques have transformed their Friday prayer gatherings into coronavirus information sessions with medical professionals addressing the congregations’ concerns.
Several Caribbean-Americans who worship at Catholic, Episcopalian and other denominations in Broward and Miami-Dade said they don’t intend the virus to curtail their church attendance but plan to take precautionary measures. “Of course, I will be sensible and walk with sanitary wipes in my purse and use them as necessary in church. But I am a Christian and trust in God’s protection. I live by faith,” Gladys Reynolds, a Miami Gardens Episcopalian told CNW.