Local churches make changes to prevent spread of coronavirus

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 04, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For members of the First United Methodist Church in Omaha, shaking hands during the peace offering has always been optional.

Now Pastor Kent Little is stressing that during services.

"If you don't want to shake hands just place your hand on your heart and speak over a word of greeting. Another might just be, fold your hands, a little bow towards one another," says Little.

Hand sanitizer isn't hard to find for members that attend any of the services throughout the week.

But for those who can't come to service, the church is stepping up to ensure they're not isolated.

"If you have the coronavirus, or any illness and you get sick, let us know. Because we can go to the grocery store for you, bring food to you and help in that way," says Cynthia Lindenmeyer, Sacred Activism Pastor, First United Methodist Church.

Over at Saint Leo Catholic Church in north-central Omaha, parishioners tell us some have also exchanged shaking hands for smiles and nods.

As for the archdiocese, they're leaving it up to each 140 parishes to make the decision on serving communion wine from the chalice, as well as the sign of peace.

"They can make their own decision based off the culture of the parish, kind of what's the mood of the parish with the virus,” says Deacon Tim McNeil.

Deacon McNeil, who serves as Archdiocesan chancellor, says they're also trying to keep parishioners calm and that so far, few have called worried about the coronavirus, at least yet.

"Surprisingly not, we haven't really heard it from many priests either,” says McNeil.

Coronavirus Resources and Information

Johns Hopkins global coronavirus tracker