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Cornelius News

Some churches put a hold on handshakes

March 7. By Dave Yochum. The coronavirus is prompting adjustments in how local churches will conduct services tomorrow. Some pastors are suspending shaking hands during the sign of peace. Others say it will be optional.

​”​We will encourage people to refrain from close contact—handshakes and hugs—and encourage greeting with a wave and a verbal acknowledgement​,” said Jonathan Marlowe, co-senior paster at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius.

The coronavirus spreads through droplets that can be produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks​. They  can find their way to people nearby, or land on a surface that you end up touching​, ​contaminating your hands. And if you shake hands, you might pass along those germs.

Churches around the country are avoid​ing​ exchanging the sign of peace, sharing wine chalices ​or making various forms of contact between attendees​ optional, including the common cup during communion.

“The distribution of the chalice to the faithful should be suspended until the spread of the diseases has safely subsided,” the Diocese of Charleston said in a letter to Catholic church​es​ in South Carolina.

Nevertheless, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus ​in Mecklenburg County.​ ​Public health officials ​say the​ best ways to protect yourself include frequent and thorough hand-washing, maintaining a social distance of about six feet and avoiding touching your face.

​At Community in Christ Lutheran Church in Cornelius, the pastors are asking members to greet each other with “elbow-bumps” not handshakes.

For the passing of the peace, they are asking participants to offer a slight bow and peace sign to one another instead of shaking hands.​

Mary John Dye, senior pastor at Broad Street United Methodist in Statesville, suggests members make heart signs with their two forefingers and thumbs joined together.


At First Baptist Church of Cornelius, they do not intend to stop passing the peace.

“We routinely have hand sanitizer in the pews and at the entrance in case anyone wants to use it,” said Rev. David Judge, pastor.

“I will likely make an announcement that if anyone is concerned that should just say hello and not extend a hand and advise everyone not to be insulted if they do not,” he said.