Houses of worship across the Twin Cities taking precautions against the coronavirus

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Houses of worship across the Twin Cities are taking precautions from the coronavirus. 

In some churches safety steps are already in place like using more hand sanitizer and no handshaking.

At Faith Lutheran Church in Forest Lake, more members are staying home and watching worship services streamed online. The church has added more hand sanitizer and says safety steps are being done. Steps are being taken not to create panic, but rather out of precaution.

"I'm not going to take risks that would put me in danger, that we wouldn't want to put the church in danger, but at the same time right now we are living normally," Pastor John Klawiter said. "Kind of taking each day at a time, that's part of our faith, that's what we do together as the church."

The Rev. Tom Margevicius, director of worship for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, sent this letter to clergy Wednesday on the coronavirus:

"Greetings in Christ, Reverend Fathers, Deacons, and Liturgical Ministers.
Many of our faithful are understandably concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are currently no known cases in Minnesota, and we continue to monitor reports from the Centers for Disease Control ( ). Even so, Influenza is locally prevalent, and since the Coronavirus is spread in much the same way Influenza is, it is prudent to follow the USCCB's previous guidance on influenza. At this time, the Archdiocese is not requiring parishes to modify their liturgical practices; if that changes, we will notify you.

Meanwhile, if Pastors judge it good for the well-being of their parishioners—psychologically if not also medically—they certainly can issue parish-wide guidelines for their community. Here are some precautions you may consider:

Remind parishioners to stay home if they feel sick or have flu-like symptoms.

Suspend the Sign of Peace (which is optional anyway) or offer it without touching.

Suspend Communion from the Chalice.

Discourage hand-holding during the Our Father.

Empty holy water fonts.

Be sure to engage your parish staff and pastoral leaders in formulating a united response, communicate that clearly to your parishioners, and prepare yourself to answer their questions. Attached to this email is a page you may find helpful to share with your faithful.
Also, remember to pray for those affected. Here's a suggested text that could be added to the Universal Prayer (Prayers of the Faithful):
For those affected by the Coronavirus, Influenza, and other illnesses. May the sick be granted a swift recovery, the medical personnel receive the support they need, and those grieving the loss of loved ones be sustained by the hope of eternal life and the care of the Church.

Please send me any other information you have found useful. The Archbishop and I will continue to monitor the situation and update you as events warrant. We are here to serve in any way we can."