Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shall We Gather?

In the first meeting of "Introduction To Nonprofit Management" this evening at Portland State University (which was AWESOME, btw, and PACKED - 45 students), the prof, at the request of the school handed each of us our syllabus individually, rather than just handing someone in the front row a big stack.

This, so we dont "die from flu germs passed on paper when it is handed around the room from person to person." He also told us that Multnomah County is making plans to have up to 40% of their workforce absent for up to 6 weeks this winter.

He said many other things, too, in two and a half hours that flew by. But this is what I'm thinking about tonight. How are we going to respond to the flu at our church?

I've read some little articles that are like, "well, keep hand sanitizer in your sanctuary and don't take communion by intinction," which is all ok advice but doesnt get to the heart of the matter for me which are questions like:
1. If it is advised (or even required) that we don't assemble, should we anyway?
2. And if we don't gather for worship, how can we be agents of healing, community building and spiritual formation anyway?
3. How do we care for the sick? What sort of care will they need?
4. How do we take precautions without fueling hysteria? What is the line between careful and fearful?

The only sort of half formed idea I have is to update the phone tree (again) and to send it along with a letter to the main callers asking them to be ready to make more "check-in" calls than usual. But that seems like such a bare minimum - there must be other ways to get ready besides stocking up on hand sanitizer....

Do you have plans? What are they?


Songbird said...

We actually decided intinction would be safer, but here's how we'll do it. The pita bread will be pre-cut into triangles, and the pastor will take the bread, dip it in the cup and hand it to the parishioner. So only the pastors' bare hands will touch stuff before it goes to the person (I assume we're using gloves in the prep process).
Of course, I am sick at the moment, so I wonder if I'll be part of this on Sunday after all?
I think our Deacons concluded that plates of cubed bread and trays of little cups would be person-handled in a germy fashion.
And as far as assembling goes, we determined that if the town's schools close due to flu, we will not hold services. So, in other words, it would have to be pretty bad in the church's particular community for us to cancel.
The Deacons reached these fairly sensible conclusions with input from clergy, so it's a policy that is owned broadly. We've started explaining it in the announcements on Sundays and will keep doing that for a while, for the sake of clarity.

Diane said...

we offer both individual cups and the common cup all the time; anyone who doesn't want to take the common cup can commune with individual cups (and I suspect that will get larger).

Silent said...

We don't really have a plan, but just recently I was reminded by someone from the public health department that hand sanitizer kills bacteria and that H1N1 (as well as seasonal flu) is a virus--so while hand sanitizer might not be a bad thing, it's still better to wash hands with soap and water. The vigorous rubbing is really what helps get rid of the virus. It made me think about how maybe we do need a plan...

Anonymous said...

Greetings! I'm a long-time reader first-time commenter.

The Mennonite Church in Canada commissioned a resource addressing some of the concerns you've described in your post. The book is "Beyond Our Fears: Following Jesus in times of crises." There are sections for adults, youth, and children as well as liturgical resources. The book is available in Canada and the US. (And, this is a wee bit of shameless self-promotion as I wrote some of the liturgical resources).

You can find out more info at www.mpn.net

June Mears Driedger

Juniper said...

June - this looks great! thanks!

And thanks for de-lurking, too - nice to "meet" you :)