East Texas churches take steps to combat spread of H1N1

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - There was no birthday party at First Christian Church of Lufkin's children's center on Thursday, but it was the song all the kids were singing as they wash their hands. The time it takes to sing the 20 second tune is the time you should take to wash your hands. Doctors said it is the best preventative measure against H1N1, also known as swine flu.

"We've had a wash your hands policy for forever," said Reverend Mike Hunter, First Christian Church of Lufkin. "Our Kids and our teachers take that very seriously."

"Scrub them [hands] really good, I don't want to see any dirt on them," said one teacher at the church.

As lunch time preparations began, one by one, the children headed to the sink. Reverend Hunter believes the church is taking all the right steps. "Washing lots of hands and hand sanitizer is everywhere," said Hunter.

Health officials also advise limiting personal contact.   A simple "hello" may take place of Sunday morning handshakes.

"Our greeters will not initialize contact with people as far as holding out their hands to them," said John Greene, Sr. Pastor at Harmony Hill Baptist.

Even with these cautionary measures, churches said they will not be too surprised if the pews are not as full this Sunday. "There may be some people who react a little early and are pulling out of crowded places," said Greene.

Greene said churches are historically a safe place and he will do his best to keep it that way.

The churches we spoke to said they will continue all worship services; however, that could change if H1N1 progresses.