Baptism and Covid-1929th June 2020
Churches are having to come to terms with some new realities now that Covid has arrived. We have all learnt how to minimise the risk to ourselves and those around us over the past few months, and we’ll need those in the future. Meetings with people close together will probably be a rarity in the coming months. The cleaning of surfaces and our hands will become a norm and habit. So too will the wearing of masks and gloves.
Whilst meeting (whether to have a discussion or for worship) isn’t necessarily dangerous once one takes precautions, certain things will be. Sadly, one of the riskiest activities is singing because there is a lot of deep breathing. But what about baptisms?
With baptisms, it is important to remember that Covid-19 is not a water-borne infection. And the scope for cleaning and cleanliness is even greater than normal!
The main source of risk is from touching and contact. The pool itself will have been cleaned before being sent to you. We will also have increased the gap between hires so that the virus cannot persist from one hire to the next. We will enclose a spray disinfectant so that you can spray the assembled baptistry.
Traditionally, the minister and a helper have lowered the candidate into the water and brought them up again. As everyone is being cleaned and washed at the same time, the main risk is from breathing. Could a baptism be undertaken whilst wearing masks? Could the minister stand outside the pool and the candidate submerge themselves? Churches have spent 2000 years adapting and surviving and thriving. We can adapt the way we baptise. Outdoor meetings and baptisms are safer still as the sunlight breaks down the virus. With extra care for the pool liner, this can be managed.
We are advised to change out of clothes after possible contact with Covid-19. After a baptism, people have always had to get into a new change of clothes anyway because they’re soaking wet.
Once the service is over and the pool is emptied, it can be sprayed with sanitiser again and left to dry. The hire period will be extended to give an extra day to give time for the pool to stand before the need to pack it and have it collected. We are strongly encouraging churches to buy their own pool liner by offering discounts. This reduces the handling of that liner. Additionally, it is far less likely to leak as it stays with you and in your care! You would also make a saving in lower hire-costs.
Buying and keeping your own pool liner is safer in the Covid-age, you save on hire fees, and the liner is far less likely to get punctured.
So, singing may be out but baptism with careful arrangements can continue.