At the time of writing on the 12th March, the Covid -19 virus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. That means that it has spread across the world and is impacting more than one hundred countries. I am writing to assure you that we in the Church of Ireland are taking this virus seriously and are seeking to limit its spread as part of civic society in Ireland. Already guidelines have been issued to reduce physical contact, by not shaking hands and by not receiving wine at Holy Communion. We are also asked not to gather indoors with more than one hundred people. Most of our church services have less than that threshold and will continue until directed otherwise. Our rectors have only limited access to hospitals and nursing homes. Schools have also been closed as from the above date. As the impact of the virus is likely to spread the guidelines will probably be extended. This will be done on a national basis following the advise of the HSE.
In the meanwhile we can support one another by keeping in touch by phone and online. By following the advice to wash our hands regularly and to limit unnecessary physical contact especially if we feel unwell. We are in the season of Lent a time of self discipline and I would ask you to exercise self discipline to allay the effects of this virus The Church of Ireland website offers a whole range of resources to help us keep our spiritual discipline. I offer this pray which is on the website:
Almighty and All-Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We pray to you through Christ the Healer,
for those who suffer from the Covid-19 virus in Ireland and across the world.
We pray too for those who reach out to those who mourn those who have
died as a result of this disease.
Give wisdom to policy makers, skill to health care professionals and researchers;
comfort everyone in distress and give a sense of calm in these days of uncertainty and fear.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
who showed compassion to the outcast, and accepted the rejected,
love to those when no love was shown. Amen