Communion Protocol

05.12.20 | Homepage | by The Rt. Rev. George Sumner

    Communion Protocol during COVID-19

    Preparation of Bread Prior to Consecration
    1. Wear a mask that covers nose and mouth
    2. Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
    3. Wash any reusable containers (including lid) used to contain bread for consecration.
    4. Put on single-use gloves prior to handling bread.
    5. Place bread in reusable container (ciborium) and cover, or place in disposable containers .
    6. Set the altar for Communion including the sealed container(s) with bread.
    1. Celebrant and anyone who will be handling communion vessels are to sanitize/wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water at the offertory. It is recommended that no one but the celebrant touch the vessels after they have been prepared on the altar with procedure described above.
    2. The celebrant alone is to receive the Sacrament during the Liturgy.
    In-person Distribution After the Liturgy
    1. Following the Liturgy, the Sacrament (understood as the bread alone) may be distributed by the celebrant placing the hosts on a large paten, a corporal, or the fair linen itself, and moving to a place in the sanctuary or chapel in which they will at no time be within 6 feet of anyone approaching the altar. Congregants may approach the altar one at a time, always maintaining 6 feet of distance, to pick up the host and communicate themselves before returning to their seat. It is assumed that all communicants are masked. This procedure may be used during “Step B” of the diocesan guidelines.
    2. Alternatively, if the Sacrament was consecrated on the altar in disposable containers that have been prepared at least 72 hours ahead of time, the Sacrament may be moved by masked and gloved persons to the exit(s) of the church for parishioners to pick up on their way out. Yet another option would be to use Pre-Sanctified Gifts, placed in envelopes, ziplocked plastic bags, or a similar container (see procedure below), may be placed at the exit(s) of the church, and congregants may pick up the Sacrament from there on their way to safely exiting the church. This procedure may be used during “Step B” and “Step C” of the diocesan guidelines.
    3. “The Liturgy” is here understood to be Morning Prayer, The Service of the Word (ante-communion of the Holy Eucharist), or the full Eucharistic service. “Following” is understood to mean the formal conclusion of the service with the expectation that the congregants are to leave almost immediately. The service may be “concluded” prior to the post-communion prayer of the Holy Eucharist, which may be given to congregants to say after they have communicated themselves.
    Preparation for Remote Distribution
    1. Following the liturgy, a person wearing mask should wash hands and put on single-use gloves prior to opening the container holding the people’s bread and place the consecrated Sacrament in a disposable container, such as a plastic bag or envelope. Each container may contain sufficient bread for a household to receive communion.
    2. These containers will be ready for distribution after being reserved for a minimum of 72 hours. That is, a Liturgy offered on Thursday at noon, may “feed” a congregation on the following Sunday.
    3. The reserved Sacrament prepared in this manner may be distributed immediately following the service, taken to parishioner’s homes by masked and gloved individuals, or picked up according to a drive-through protocol in which the container is placed in the rear of the vehicle (never handed directly to someone through a front window).

    Note: these protocols describe the minimum precautions to be undertaken by the clergy in the administration of the Sacraments. Clergy are permitted to be more strict in their observance of disease prevention protocols, and these protocols are not to be construed as a mandate to hold public worship if the clergy deem that to be ill-advised in their local circumstances. In such a case they are encouraged to continue online worship of some sort on behalf of their congregation.