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Swine Flu


andyorgan
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Here in darkest deepest Dorset, we sometimes seem blissfully unaware of events in the events in the large towns and cities up and down the country. So it was with great surprise that the effects of swine flu finally reached us this morning in church. No wailing and gnashing of teeth, no bodies being carried out in services, not even any cough/sneeze fits by members of the congregation. Instead, much more devastating and far reaching consequences...

 

No physical contact in the church!!

 

Much to the delight of the older brigade in the church, the hugging/kissing/shaking hands at the peace has been disbanded temporarily while the spread of the disease is brought under control. Those who have feared this part of the service since its introduction and have tried by legal means to not be part of it, have finally succeeded. So, what we had instead was the bizarre ritual of people turning to each other and 'waving' the peace.

 

We all had to wash our hands in an alcohol rub on the way in, and the chalice was abandoned in favour of the free church tradition of tiny plastic glasses, courtesy left over from village street fair yesterday, and coffee had to be served in polysterene cups, so there could be no chance of infection.

 

Anyone else any bizarre experiences of the flu?

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We all had to wash our hands in an alcohol rub on the way in, and the chalice was abandoned in favour of the free church tradition of tiny plastic glasses, courtesy left over from village street fair yesterday, and coffee had to be served in polysterene cups, so there could be no chance of infection.

 

Anyone else any bizarre experiences of the flu?

 

Our chalice has gone altogether - wine needs to be pre booked if one wants it - alcohol wipes due soon for when one arrives - letter from diocese read out last Sunday - clergy not to visit in case of SF - 'advised to ring NH direct or the other lot.

 

A

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No physical contact in the church!!

 

Much to the delight of the older brigade in the church, the hugging/kissing/shaking hands at the peace has been disbanded temporarily while the spread of the disease is brought under control. Those who have feared this part of the service since its introduction and have tried by legal means to not be part of it, have finally succeeded. So, what we had instead was the bizarre ritual of people turning to each other and 'waving' the peace.

The centuries-old instruction Offerte vobis pacem in the Catholic Mass has often been thought of by many as a new, trendy fad. I suspect that this is because 'The Peace' wasn't a feature of Anglican prayer books (though I stand to be corrected), and because of the 'mateyness' with which it can be exchanged today, so far removed from the sobriety with which the action should properly by carried out.

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Our priest was saying today that some Catholic Dioceses have been instructing parishes to empty holy water stoups and not to give the Host straight into the mouth or to offer the chalice. I was always told that it is not possible to catch an infection from a chalice as precious metals act as an antiseptic. Is this an old wives tale? Here in Norfolk we seem to be carrying on as usual, although there did seem to be quite a few people coughing and spluttering at Mass this morning.

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A magnificent wedding at Chester Cathedral yesterday, Ian Roberts, the assistant DOM, the full nuptial mass, the works. Musically magic. At communion the Dean announced that it was bread only, no wine. A free churchman beside me said why not use their little cups. Maybe something C of E should consider permanently.

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Anyone else any bizarre experiences of the flu?

 

Here in Bradford Diocese the use of the chalice is now also banned totally, as is taking the bread/wafer on the tongue. All this is because of swine flu. I suppose it makes sense really.

 

R.

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My wife and I sang in a choral society performance of Karl Jenkins' Armed Man one Saturday back in May. On the following Monday we (and the rest of the choir) were advised that one treble had confirmed swine flu and two others were suspect. We all had to attend for assessment, counselling and Tamiflu prescriptions. One tablet a day for ten days. No side effects.

 

I wouldn't have minded if we'd been doing the Verdi Requiem or Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, but having had to sing bass for the Armed Man I thought I'd suffered enough.

 

Justason was standing-in, this morning, at a Chelsea church with a Compton organ. No chalice, but still The Peace. Beautiful service.

 

Aaatishoink!

 

J

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Per an edict from the Bishop, in Chichester diocese Communion is given in one Kind only - into the hands and not directly on to the tongue. The Peace remains as usual at this stage and Holy water stoups remain in use. I'm not convinced that we aren't going slightly OTT.

 

Normally we are told that gold or silver chalices kill germs anyway and BBC news a couple of days ago suggested you need prolonged contact with someone to catch it from them. Who knows? Was there all this fuss with the similar situation in 1919?

 

As an aside is anyone else finding this site incredibly slow for the past few days? I'm not having any problems with any other sites but this one seems to be getting slower and slower.

 

Malcolm

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Much to the delight of the older brigade in the church, the hugging/kissing/shaking hands at the peace has been disbanded temporarily while the spread of the disease is brought under control. Those who have feared this part of the service since its introduction and have tried by legal means to not be part of it, have finally succeeded.

Surely all they have to do is what a lady once did to Lionel Dakers when he offered her the peace. She politely declined, saying, "Not today, thank you."

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Ah yes, but what about all those visits to the supermarket where you pick up a tin or packet that someone else has touched before you, or travelling on the bus or train where someone has touched the handrail before you, or been to an eatery where someone has touched, or even, shock horror, sneezed on the table before you. Hundreds of people may have scratched their arses before touching what you have just touched, and we never complained about that.

 

I think if someone sneezed into the chalice before you, it would be withdrawn regardless of swine flu. With the existence of gingivitis, oral thrush, herpes simplex or even a common cold, existing prior to the outbreak of swine flu, and on any chalice anywhere in the world, you'll forgive me for laughing out loud.

 

Should we all now refuse to shake hands with people when we meet them. Should we refuse the peck on the cheek from our European brethren, or a pretty lady (or gent) for that matter.

 

It's all rather risable. I know I'm clean, but I don't trust the person next to me; where would we be if we keep that attitude up to communicable diseases. I would worry if we all grew short curly tails, and began to forage in the mud for our food, but we won't. The reaction is utterly disproportionate.

 

AJS

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During the notices before the service at church yesterday, the vicar announced that a directive from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York decreed that, because of the swine 'flu epidemic, no CofE church was longer allowed to distribute communion wine from a chalice. Therefore, all communion wafers would have to be dipped in wine before the distribution. We were also told it was no longer expected to shake hands at the peace if we didn't wish too - news I think some of the older members of the congregation warmed to.

 

Immediately after the service at my church, I had to visit another CofE church nearby. Clearly, there had been no news of of the Archbishops' directive here. They were heartily swigging away from the chalice and the peace seemed to go on for days - some people shaking hands several times with each other. Ah well, c'est la vie.

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Of course, were we to go back to what I was brought up on - non-communicating High Mass at 11 am, done according to the English Missal (an English translation for Anglicans of the old Tridentine Roman Missal) the problems of the peace and the chalice would disappear. If you read the other blogs that I read - and sometimes contribute to - as a break from endless, serious organ practice here at home - you would see that a sizeable minority seem actually to want to go back to using the English Missal rather like a sizeable minority of RCs seem to want to go back to what they now call the Extraordinary Form. I am not convinced that it would please everyone but it would mean we could sing longer settings of the Sanctus and (especially) the Benedictus again!.

 

I read somewhere the other day that Communion by intinction (dipping the wafer in the chalice) is just as dangerous as passing the chalice from person to person. Who, if anyone, can you reliably believe about what we should or shouldn't do and is it relevant to an organ discussion forum anyway?

 

Malcolm

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Guest Patrick Coleman

The Church in Wales instructions say, correctly, that intinction is just as much an issue as the common cup.

 

Our instructions locally are to take note of the advice and use our common sense. I have advised parishioners accordingly and they have the choice to abstain from the cup and to receive the Host in the hand, also to refrain from contact during the Peace. All ministers of communion are using alcohol gel immediately before and after distributing communion. Otherwise things are running as normal.

 

When swine flu becomes an issue locally - as it will - then will be the time for more drastic measures, but these will include contingency plans for funerals and for looking after the isolated and vulnerable.

 

If a congregation focuses on the needs/concerns of other people it will be behaving in a Christian fashion; if not, then I wonder what they think they're doing in church in the first place.

 

This, incidentally, is a (very) potted version of what I preached about yesterday.

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Our instructions locally are to take note of the advice and use our common sense.

If a congregation focuses on the needs/concerns of other people it will be behaving in a Christian fashion; if not, then I wonder what they think they're doing in church in the first place.

 

Sometimes I wishe there where more who thought like this - not on this board or necessarily where I play I hasten to add but out there in the big wide parish!

 

A

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...At communion the Dean announced that it was bread only, no wine. A free churchman beside me said why not use their little cups...

Not lawful at present in the Church of England, apparently.

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Well quite frankly I think that it is mass hysteria whipped up in the media and by a thoroughly discredited Parliament anxious to re-focus the public attention from other matters.

 

(harumphh........)

 

People in our Church yesterday thought the whole thing to be quite OTT, and I was troubled by the whole thing. We were going to obey the directive and administer in one kind, but instead I asked the congregation what they wanted to do. We decided that for the time being that the clergy would intinct the wafers for them and place them on the hand. It occurred to me that whilst swine flu may be a nasty bug, it seems that if you're going to get it, you'll get it - and if not then you won't. We can use all the alcohol hand wash we like but the church will NEVER be a sterile environment; and after all of that, if you are in the in the wrong place when that dreaded sneeze happens then.... :)

 

And there is absolutely NO POINT WHATEVER telling the congregation not to shake hands at The Peace, because our lot will do what they want to do!

 

I frankly don't like the Government telling the church what to do; after all, I heard of one MP who went to a Remembrance Sunday service, put a fiver on the plate and then attempted to claim it back in his expenses!!! :lol:

 

Sister Glenys is very wise. She is well into her 80s and proud to be a Third Order Franciscan. She told me that (the Apostle) Peter only started sinking when he stopped believing! And I think she may be correct!

 

And to bring the matter back on topic, I played the organ for church and conducted the service, praught, and inticted all those wafers too; I was proper worn out at the end of it all and wondered if I had swine flu.... ;)

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It's true that silver ions have an antiseptic effect that is exploited in medical dressings, but I have no idea how effectively or how rapidly metallic silver kills the influenza virus. In any case the speed with which the chalice is passed from person to person would require almost instant killing to be of any use, and even microscopic secretions from an infected communicant could just as easily contaminate the wine, whilst contaminated hands could cause cross-infection when handling the cup, rendering the silver coating of the chalice useless.

 

Given the ease with which the H1N1 virus is transmitted by hand-to-hand contact (let's face it, when was the last time you washed your hands straight after blowing your nose? No, I thought not), and the lack of immunity in the general population it makes hygienic sense to advise against shaking hands and sharing the chalice during the Eucharist. Churches with holy water for anointing at the entrance might reconsider that as a source of potential cross-infection too. Given that it's impossible to contain anything as easily transmitted and as infectious as H1N1, the public health aim has to be to slow down its spread to stop lots of people all going down at the same time and place.

 

Writing as someone who is both an organist and a public health doctor, how should organists respond to the pandemic, and how will we be affected ourselves? Certainly if you're fluey it wouldn't be advisable to turn up to a service and play - even if you are physically isolated from the congregation you still run the risk of contaminating door handles, organ keys (both the lock type and the note type) and other church paraphenalia. Draconian public health laws could prevent large gatherings, so big concerts might temporarily face the axe even if services continue unabated, though I suspect that would be a last resort. There will be enormous pressure on funeral directors, crematoria and vicars for funeral services. Then there will be pastorial aspects - such as filling in for people who are sick, or who are caring for sick people. It could pose a particular challenge for churches with relatively older average age of membership, as older people are at greater risk of complications from flu.

 

Meanwhile those of us in the health service run a fine line between causing unnecessary panic on the one hand and complacency leading to being taken by surprise by the pandemic's seriousness on the other if things do turn out as serious as in previous pandemics.

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It could pose a particular challenge for churches with relatively older average age of membership, as older people are at greater risk of complications from flu.

I can imagine this would be so and I am in no position to argue with a medic, but I think quite a few of us have probably been trying to take some comfort from the fact that the reports have been suggesting that people over 65 seem to be less susceptible to H1N1. Don't spoilt it!

 

Mind you, I'm not as old as that and if I get it I'm dead.

 

So you can all pray for me.

 

One way or the other! :):lol:

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We dutifully followed the episcopcal edict to have bread only and then all went into the hall and shared a communal spoon to stir our coffees. I couldn't help thinking that something hadn't been thought through.

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We dutifully followed the episcopcal edict to have bread only and then all went into the hall and shared a communal spoon to stir our coffees. I couldn't help thinking that something hadn't been thought through.

 

Yes but presumably you didn't lick it (the spoon)?

 

R.

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