With the global outbreak of the coronavirus, churches and houses of worship are doing all they can to protect their congregations.
Churchgoers have been asked to stop shaking hands, communal cups are in storage, and holy water stoups are dried out. A St. Paul, Minn., minister dispensed Purell into each person's hand Sunday as they lined up for communion.
The Diocese in Rome is asking members that the sign of peace, typically a handshake or embrace, be omitted from Mass, that the faithful receive Holy Communion in hand, and that holy water stoups be left empty, according to the Rev. Ryan Black.
But at St. Boniface Martyr Church on Long Island, N.Y., the Rev. Kevin Dillon recommended fist-bumping as an alternative to expressing a sign of peace.
“Rather than shaking hands or maybe giving someone a kiss that we know, you might want to do a nod or a smile or maybe what millennials do – a fist bump – or what the CDC recommends: an elbow bump," Dillon told WCBS-AM 880.
In a similar message to Jewish congregants, the Temple De Hirsch Sinai synagogue in Seattle told members to avoid "hugs and kisses" and instead opt for the "elbow bump." Washington state has recorded seven coronavirus-related deaths,
The Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, released a statement saying that communion will be received in hand and only the priest will drink from the chalice. The sign of peace will be only a gesture so that people don't hold hands and touch faces.
Pastor Joseph Prince's New Creation Church in Singapore is taking extra precautions to protect the 33,000-member megachurch from the virus. There are temperature checks at state-of-the-art thermal scanners, hand sanitizer and they stopped passing "offering bags" during service, encouraging congregants to give online or drop donations in an offering box after service.
The church also disinfected each location with air sterilizers at the children's classes, according to their website.
The largest Pentecostal church in the world, Yoido Full Gospel Church, located in Seoul, streamed its services online.
The leader of a controversial, secretive religious sect in South Korea apologized Monday for allowing the mass spread of the virus in the largest outbreak outside of China. The head of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee, claims he is the second coming of Jesus Christ, and his sect was slow to release information to authorities for fear of safety for their members.
With more than 3,081 cases connected to the group, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon filed a criminal complaint against Lee and 12 others, with charges of murder and disease control act violations.
Several Chrisitan ministries have called to end the coronavirus with a global prayer event Tuesday, hosted by Cindy Jacobs. Last month, rabbis in Israel held a prayer event at the Western Wall in Jerusalem praying for a cure.