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WASHINGTON – In the face of increasing public health concerns over the spread of coronavirus, some Christians are responding with Bible verses like 2 Timothy 1:7 to calm the growing panic.
It reads, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
But many houses of worship also have practical solutions, like adjusting communion practices or live streaming sermons, to limit the potential of COVID-19 from spreading through communities of faith.
DC officials are urging hundreds of parishioners who attend Christ Church Georgetown to self-quarantine after its lead preacher tested positive for coronavirus.
The church had already suspended services and activities as a precaution. The preacher, the Rev. Timothy Cole, remains hospitalized in stable condition in a Washington-area hospital while his wife and two kids are in self-quarantine.
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The Holy See is also taking preventive measures. In an extraordinary move, Pope Francis delivered mass via video Monday morning. The live stream was intended to show solidarity with people who are suffering from the virus.
The Vatican made a similar move Sunday to discourage typically large crowds from gathering in St. Peter's Square. The pope did, however, briefly pop his head out of the iconic window to wave to the sparse crowd.
Fear is also gripping neighboring France, which now trails Italy with the second most coronavirus cases in Europe.
On Sunday, the government announced it will ban gatherings that exceed 1,000 people.
The new precautionary rule could shut down Paris Christian Center, which welcomed fifteen new converts at its weekend service.
"Many churches have decided to close their service," Dorothée Rajiah, senior pastor of Paris Christian Center, "If the government asks us to shut down our service, we are ready to stream from our website and from YouTube."
In Greenwood Village, Colorado, parishioners at St. Peter Lutheran Church ditched the traditional handshake in favor of elbow and fist bumps during the Passing of the Peace.
The church took extra measures for communion, too.
"We're trying to be careful to make sure our communion servers have their hands well clean and that people know how to be careful and thoughtful when they receive the bread and the wine," said Dave Risendal, pastor of St. Peter Lutheran.
Last week in Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity—the site where many Christians believe Jesus was born—shut its doors as a precaution.
And after shuttering Islam's holiest site, Saudi Arabia temporarily re-opened the Grand Mosque in Mecca for Muslim pilgrims Saturday..
to make sure our communion servers have their hands well clean and that people know how to be careful and thoughtful when they receive the bread and the wine," said Dave Risendal, pastor of St. Peter Lutheran.
"Many churches have decided to close their service, "If the government asks us to shut down our service, we are ready to stream from our website and from YouTube."