HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Religious institutions throughout North Alabama are taking precautions to protect their flock from the spread of viruses, like COVID-19.
The Catholic Diocese of Birmingham wrote a letter saying the “distribution of Holy Communion from the Chalice is to be suspended until further notice.” They are encouraging new precautions in order to minimize the potential for viruses to spread.
It’s not just the Catholic Church exercising caution. Several local churches in Huntsville are also working to prevent the spread of illnesses.
WHNT News 19 spoke with a member of First United Methodist Church in Huntsville who shared what the church has been doing to prevent illnesses from spreading.
“The church has encouraged anyone showing symptoms of flu or any other types of illness not to come and to stay home to take care of themselves, make sure they treat themselves first,” said Barry Schrimsher.
The North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church also shared a newsletter to church members addressing COVID-19 concerns.
The First United Methodist Church has stocked up on hand sanitizer and is encouraging people to use it.
“We have scattered lots of hand sanitizer all over the building. We have encouraged folks not to shake hands directly but to do the flu season fist bump or wave and smile in greeting and acknowledging anyone,” said Schrimsher.
Associate Pastor Brett Gudeman of First Presbyterian Church in Huntsville has also taken the initiative to modify some of their traditions in order to prevent the spread of germs.
“It’s traditional in our service to pass the peace which is traditionally with the shake of a hand, so we have encouraged our congregants that the peace is still passed with a hand wave, with an elbow touch, with a knuckle bump, with a bow… all of these practices that limit the spread of germs are still passing the peace,” said Gudeman.
And more changes could be coming if COVID-19 cases are diagnosed in the area.
“The North Alabama Presbytery, which is the governing body for Presbyterian churches, has a committee that is in charge of setting up policies for that, so I am sure they are working on that right now,” said Gudeman.
The goal is that everyone leaves the service with a sense of joy and peace… not an infection.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama.
First United Methodist Church is located at 120 Greene St SE, Huntsville, AL 35801. Sunday service times can be found here.
First Presbyterian Church is located at 307 Gates Ave SE, Huntsville, AL 35801. Service times can be found here.