The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has stopped the use of one chalice for the sharing of wine during Holy Communion as one of the steps to stop the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.
The church has also suspended handshakes and hugs which are hitherto being used for the “exchange of peace” during the services.
The church’s General Secretary, Gershinen Dajur, disclosed this in a letter addressed to all archbishops and bishops of the church on Friday on behalf of the church’s Primate, Most-Revd Nicholas Okoh.
The letter read, “His Grace, the Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh has directed that certain steps be taken as guides against contacting and communicating the virus among our people.
“Let the church be encouraged to trust God who is well able to help us in our times of trouble (Psalms46:1). This is the time to trust and obey God than to be anxious and panic (Phil 4:6-7).
“Since this virus is communicable, the church is to prayerfully put on hold the sharing of one chalice to all during Holy Communion. Other smaller communion cups should be used for individual communication.
“Also, handshakes and hugs during the exchange of peace should be substituted with non-contagious gestures such as hand waving, mutual bowing, or making the sign of the cross, etc.
“Let everyone be encouraged to observe good personal hygiene through proper washing of hands with soap or hand sanitiser; covering of mouth with a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing etc.
Okoh also asked parishioners to read, study and implement important safety tips from the World Health Organisation’s website or that of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on how to handle oneself in a time like this.
“These are temporary guides given in good spirit to help us while we navigate our way through the challenge of the pandemic of COVID 19.
“Please do not oversimplify, underrate, overrate, overreact or over spiritualise this issue of COVID 19.