Pass the Peace, -and the Hand Sanitizers

I am NOT a Germ-a-phobe or hypochondriac. I just have serious concerns about an age-old practice that creates problems in this day and age: the extent to which we pass BUGS around on Sunday morning.

I’m particularly concerned about pastors: they shake EVERYBODY’S hands at the end of worship. How do they stay healthy?  Many don’t. A pastor I once worked with seemed to get sick every other week. At the time, we didn’t associate it with the germ-bath he was jumping into every Sunday morning.

And I’m also concerned about teachers: As a life-long Sunday School teacher, I’m concerned about picking up colds (or worse) in the classroom.  I have chronic dust allergies and occasional sinus-infections which are triggered by small colds. And hanging around kids is one of the easiest ways to pick up this stuff.

And I’m concerned about some of our old folks:  My aged-mother picked up a simple Strep infection, and it put her in the hospital, then rehab facility.

Then there’s the Passing of the Peace…

A few years ago I was sitting behind a gal in the pews who was HACKING AWAY. She WAS was covering her mouth, but then it came time to pass the peace, and she turned around and STUCK-OUT THAT  GERM-Y HAND to greet me.   I didn’t want to offend her, so I said, “I have a cold and so I’m not shaking hands this morning.”  She replied, “That’s a good idea,” and said the same to others around her when they tried to greet her.

How many times have you sat in church listening to people cough their lungs out?  And how many time did you see those people get in line to shake the pastor’s hand and pass the peace?

Some people say, “Well, germs are everywhere, you shouldn’t worry about them.”  I used to think that too until I contracted MRSA two years ago. MRSA is that antibiotic resistant virus that’s going around.

It took 10 weeks of special antibiotics to get rid of it. I also had to have an abcess cut out of my hand and thigh. It spreads way too easily. During that time I stopped shaking hands at church and everywhere else. I carried Purell, and watched what I touched. They say that cases of MRSA are on the rise. I’m living proof of that. Nasty stuff.  I don’t really know where I got it from, but I do know this: I noticed the red bump which MRSA first appears as -on a Sunday afternoon.


My wife and I have been on cruises where you can’t walk 100 feet without seeing a Hand Sanitizing Station. They have employees standing with sanitizer at every restaurant. And they wipe the railings and elevator buttons with disinfectants all day long. Why? Because viruses can ruin your vacation, and are really easy to get when you have A LOT of people in a confined space.

Churches are just like cruise ships in that respect. Maybe we should have buffets too 😉

Certainly every pastor should have a mini-bottle in their pocket and on their desk.

After my MRSA outbreak, I started “NBA-ing” people instead of shaking their hands. NBA-ing is when you make your hand into a fist and bump knuckes with each other. You see it all the time in sports. (Also known as “bumping” or “dapping.”)

I’ve always been a hugger and hand-shaker, -and NBAing is awkward sometimes, …so I also came up with an alternative way to make contact with people: I started to gently grab their elbows or forearm, rather than their hands. Reflexively, they’d do the same to me and it always came with a smile because it was so unexpected and yet intimate.  It’s better than hand-shaking because it’s a sort of EMBRACE -and women and men seem to like it equally. I think it’s a much better way to Pass the Peace anyway.



CHURCHES need to teach their janitors what to clean, how often, and what with. Doors, handles, knobs, light switches, computers, etc., should be wiped with disinfectant before and after worship.

CHURCHES should get with the program and offer hand-sanitizing stations.

CHURCHES should put reminders in the bathrooms to WASH YOUR HANDS. E-Coli from unwashed hands is a threat to everyone, especially the young and old. Signs and soap, plus a janitor who understand the need should be S.O.P. in all churches.

CHURCHES should look at alternative ways to Pass the Peace, especially during cold and flu season. A simple note in the bulletin would be an excellent start.

CHURCHES should put hand-sanitizing dispensers in the NURSERY and Toddler rooms.

Every Sunday School rooms should have a bottle of Purell to use on the kids at the beginning of every class.

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