New swine flu guidance from the Methodist Church

New swine flu guidance from the Methodist Church encouragesthose who are housebound with the virus to worship online or sharein a service broadcast on the radio.

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

Paul Morrison, a virologist and Public Issues Policy Advisor forthe Church said; "Each church is encouraged to think about how theycan sensibly reduce the risk of spreading swine flu during servicesand the other activities that go on as part of Church life. Anumber of areas of concern, such as Holy Communion, have beenspecifically addressed. Once these risks have been thought out andminimised we hope that churches will carry on serving theircommunities as before."

"Swine flu is nothing to panic about but it has increased the levelof need within our communities. It is important that our churchesare able to continue to reach out to sick and vulnerable peopleusing both new technologies like email and internet as well as moretraditional methods such as home visits and phone calls".

The guidance stresses that where people are housebound with swineflu, it may not be appropriate for them to receive pastoral visitsand could be supported in other ways such as by phone or email.Those wishing to take part in corporate worship, but unable to doso because of the virus may wish to attend an online worshipservice at St Pixels, the Church of the Internet (www.stpixels.com), or share inworship broadcast on the radio, such as the Daily Service on Radio4 longwave, each weekday at 9.45am (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wzfs).

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

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