0305 CORONAVIRUS VS CHURCH

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JEFFERSON CITY - Coronavirus has reached the United States and it's starting to push people to think ahead. First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson City has already started to make some changes to their religious rituals. 

"It’s not natural for us to not extend peace," Senior Pastor Angela Madden said. "It’s such an important part of our fellowship to look each other in the eye and just have this simple contact that lets us know that we’re one, even though we’re different. That we have this unity of touch, so it definitely feels out of norm." 

Pastor Madden said it's typical for the congregation to shake hands and hug often on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

Madden said Lent Wednesday looked a little different. For the first time in three decades, members did not hold hands. 

"We typically hold hands at the end of celebrating the words of the sacrament and institution," Madden said. "We’ve refrained from that so we just stood at the table as opposed to grabbing hold."

Accompanist Mary Kabiri said she was initially surprised that they changed this long-time ritual, but understands it all has to do with safety.

"I am probably a little careless about things like that," Kabiri said. "But when I think about it, it's showing up in some of these states with very little warning and so it probably makes sense that we actually think about this."

But it's not just the safety of the adults that the church has to keep in mind. First Presbyterian also doubles as a pre-school and K-plus program.

Kelly Bone, K-plus teacher, said she is always teaching her children to practice good hygiene, so now it's just being implemented even more. 

"Using hand washing techniques, coughing and sneezing into our elbows, using Germ-X when we can’t use the bathroom," Bone said. "And again, our hands are raw, chapped and dry with all the hand washing and Germ-X that we do."

One student said she knows the trick to keeping healthy.

“Don’t put your hands in your mouth," K-plus student Malayna said. 

Madden said she doesn't know exactly when they can return to their typical hand-shaking and hugging, but she knows what will always be number one. 

“We never stop being safe,” Madden said. “We always have the safety of the faith family first and foremost.”

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