New swine flu guidance from the Methodist Church

New swine flu guidance from the Methodist Church encourages those who are housebound with the virus to worship online or share in a service broadcast on the radio.

The online guidance (www.methodist.org.uk/swineflu), also offers practical advice for Holy Communion and sharing the Peace, as well as a checklist for Church facilities.

Paul Morrison, a virologist and Public Issues Policy Advisor for the Church said; "Each church is encouraged to think about how they can sensibly reduce the risk of spreading swine flu during services and the other activities that go on as part of Church life. A number of areas of concern, such as Holy Communion, have been specifically addressed. Once these risks have been thought out and minimised we hope that churches will carry on serving their communities as before."

"Swine flu is nothing to panic about but it has increased the level of need within our communities. It is important that our churches are able to continue to reach out to sick and vulnerable people using both new technologies like email and internet as well as more traditional methods such as home visits and phone calls".

The guidance stresses that where people are housebound with swine flu, it may not be appropriate for them to receive pastoral visits and could be supported in other ways such as by phone or email. Those wishing to take part in corporate worship, but unable to do so because of the virus may wish to attend an online worship service at St Pixels, the Church of the Internet (www.stpixels.com), or share in worship broadcast on the radio, such as the Daily Service on Radio 4 longwave, each weekday at 9.45am (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wzfs).

"Meeting together to learn and worship is the spiritual life-blood of the Church and we don't want people to stop doing this," added Paul. "But for those who can't attend corporate worship for whatever reason, there are a variety of resources to offer them spiritual support until they can return to church."

People are being encouraged to pray for the health services and all those suffering with the virus, as well as send in their own stories of good practice in helping to prevent and manage the disease. The stories can be emailed to swineflu@methodistchurch.org.uk.

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