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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Faith and H1N1



They say cleanliness is next to godliness. In light of the swine flu fears, some area congregations are putting the maxim to the test. Across the country, churches have stopped the "passing of the peace" where worshippers shake hands during the service and have put away the shared Communion cups.

Locally, most area houses of worship are taking smaller steps:

At Beth Sholom Temple in Stafford County, Rabbi Devorah Lynn combines Hebrew lessons with germ-fighting. She teaches the children to sing the Aleph-Bet song while washing their hands. Not only does it reinforce their language skills, the song is the perfect length of time to wash hands and get rid of germs. Lynn shares the Jewish proverb, "If you save one life, it’s as if you save the world."

The Rev. Doug Hodges, interim pastor at United Church of Christ of Fredericksburg makes sure to wash his hands frequently Sunday mornings. After all, he shakes a lot of hands. And a pastor wants to share a message–not germs.

At Evergreen Church in Spotsylvania, Communion wafers are now used instead of shared bread. And the church keeps hand sanitizers handy. 



  • jeffmclain

    Sounds like people living by their fear. As a
    Christian I continue to live a normal life, weather it
    be shaking hands or visiting the sick. We can’t fear
    such things.