Methodists issue flu guidelines but church leaders avoid viral hype

By staff writers
May 2, 2009

The Methodist Church has circulated guidance among church leaders in the event of an H1N1 flu pandemic in the United Kingdom.

The Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, general secretary, sent a message to deacons, presbyters, district local preachers’ secretaries, district staff, superintendents and district chairs asking them to consider ways to avoid the risk of catching and spreading the virus.

The circulated document, ‘Swine Flu: Risks and Precautions’ is intended for all who have a responsibility in a Church context, whether leading worship, running groups or visiting. It also gives details of websites and helplines which offer up-to-date advice.

It is available to view here:

Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for South America and the Caribbean, has also been in contact with the Methodist Church in Mexico.

He said: “Swine flu has affected Church life quite dramatically since all churches have been closed. There is concern for the marginalised people – especially the oldest and the youngest – that they should not be forgotten. Everybody has been called to look out for each other.”

The Methodist Church in Mexico has informed the Civil and State Authorities Office that Methodist churches and congregations are willing and able to be at the disposition of the authorities to care for others.

Bishop Moisés Valdarrema Gomez, President of the Council of Bishops at The Methodist Church in Mexico, said: “We have a responsibility of stewardship for, not only our lives, but also for the lives of others, which means in situations like this we take responsibility for how our actions may affect others."

A number of other British churches have issued guidelines. There have been some media stories about suspensions of communion and other regular activities.

However, Anglican, Catholic, Free Church and independent church leaders are asking people not to overreact to the media hype.

Meanwhile, UK health chiefs are awaiting the results of more than 600 tests for swine flu as the number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached 13, reports the BBC.

It comes after officials announced the first two cases of Britons falling ill without having travelled to Mexico. A 42-year-old man from South Gloucestershire had been in contact with a traveller to the country.
However, the Health Protection Agency said the two cases did "not yet represent sustained human-to-human transmission". The risk to the general public is still very low, it added.

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