Parish life and COVID-19
Updated 21 March 2020: The respiratory illness outbreak caused by the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it are having a profound impact on social interaction around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this. Our parish is complying with the public health measures mandated by the civil authorities including limits on the number of people inside the church at any one time. As our small church has approximately 115 square meters of floor space, this means that no more than 28 people will be permitted in the church during services. Weather permitting, Divine Liturgy on Sundays will be served outside. We encourage our members, regular worshippers, and friends to comply with the advice of the Australian Government Department of Health concerning handwashing, respiratory hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation if unwell. Some simple steps that we have taken in parish life include the regular cleaning of icon cases, the provision of disposable “zapivka” cups, not offering the Holy Cross to be kissed at the end of the service, and the cancellation of our “cup of tea” after the service until the crisis passes. We remind the faithful that it is acceptable – and known within the Old Rite of the Russian Orthodox tradition, for example – to venerate the icons by simply bowing before them and not kissing them and that it is possible to receive a blessing from the priest without kissing his hand. Apart from the provision of individual napkins and not offering the chalice to be kissed, there will be no change to the traditional practice of administering Holy Communion to the faithful. Those of our parishioners who are unwell and wish to receive Holy Communion at home are encouraged to contact our parish rector. Further public health information, some relevant statements from church authorities, and a selection of prayers are available here.