Book of Common Prayer, Altar of Mikael Agricola Church

Dear people of the Anglican Church in Finland,

The outbreak of Corona virus (COVID-19) has caused some anxiety among people. The Chaplaincy is monitoring closely the instructions given by the Finnish authorities and the EU. Our practice of using common cup at the Eucharist is based on a long tradition of theology of the Church and this practice is maintained in the Canons Law of the church. This practice differs from what one could describe as a ‘norm’ in Finland. For this reason, the Anglican Church in Finland is following also the guidance from the Church of England concerning the corona virus. Please find below instructions from our Bishops.

Tuomas Mäkipää, Chahplain and Area Dean

The Church of England publishes guidance to all clergy and congregations here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/coronavirus

Please find below a letter from our Bishops to the congregations in the Diocese in Europe:

“We have decided to go somewhat beyond this advice [described in the link above] in certain respects because of the mobile and international nature of our congregations and in the light of medical advice we have received. We preface this advice by re-iterating that coronavirus appears to present a particular risk to elderly people and those with reduced immunity or a pre-existing health condition. Our advice is given out of a mutual concern for the wellbeing of all members of our chaplaincies. 

  1. We encourage individuals and congregations to follow good hygiene practices, including:
    1. Carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue
    2. Washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser to kill germs.
  2. If possible provide hand gel at entrances and ensure there is a good supply of soap or hand gel in cloakrooms and kitchens. In addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based sanitiser. Sidespeople/welcomers and those serving refreshments should take similar precautions.
  3. Try to clean hard surfaces such as door handles and communion rails regularly.
  4. The exchange of a gesture of peace prior to sharing Communion is for many, a much-loved moment in the service. However, we recommend that, for the time being, this gesture is restricted to a smile and words of peace to those in closest proximity rather than physical contact (kiss or handshake) with everyone in the church.
  5.  We recommend that communion is distributed in the form of bread/wafer only. Both elements will be consecrated but the wine should not be distributed. Congregations can be reassured that this does not diminish the nature of the Eucharist. It is a clear principle of Anglican theology that the sacrament of Holy Communion is present and complete in either of the consecrated elements. (We are aware that distribution of the elements in one kind only has already been adopted by some chaplaincies.)

Infectious diseases seem to cause higher levels of public anxiety than other threats, perhaps because we can’t see them or sense them. And although social media can satisfy our desire for information they have the capacity to fuel anxiety. Avoiding panic is a key part of responding to coronavirus for all of us in positions of leadership.

This guidance is intended as a prudent response to an unusual challenge. It represents a set of sensible precautions to promote health and wellbeing in the conditions of our diocese.

Meanwhile, we pray that our chaplaincies and congregations can be oases of peace, loving fellowship and hope in times of anxiety. We continue to pray for those infected by the coronavirus, for those who care for them, and for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.”

+Robert Gibraltar in Europe +David

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