Some churches cancel services, others still undecided on coronavirus
Two big churches have confirmed they will discontinue services in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, while other groups have not made their plans clear.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church, led by Shepherd Bushiri, has postponed all church services until further notice, effective immediately.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared Covid-19 a national disaster on Sunday. He implemented bans and restrictions regarding schools, universities, prisons, visas, travel and group gatherings.
Bushiri called on his congregants to adhere to the restrictions and not to hold gatherings of more than 100 people.
“As the world continues to monitor the Covid-19 pandemic, your safety is my top priority. With that said, it is out of our great love for you that I announce that all services, in all our South African churches, will be postponed until further notice, and effective immediately.
“This includes midweek, diplomatic, home cells and Sunday services. All programmes tabulated on our timetable have also been cancelled indefinitely,” Bushiri said in a statement.
The services will be televised and live-streamed.
Rhema Bible Church North has also suspended its Sunday church gatherings.
“It is vitally important to maintain connection and community as a church during this health crisis so we will be live-streaming our Sunday services to maintain our spiritual health, and not only our physical health,” Pastor Ray McCauley said in a statement.
The South African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) said it would soon make a decision regarding congregants’ mass meetings and church services across the country.
SACBC spokesperson Father Paul Tatu said there had not been a decision on the Easter pilgrimage season.
“Bishops will issue a directive to their congregants about what must happen. The council has put emphasis on cancellation of meetings and some have been cancelled already. We have not yet made a decision on the Easter holidays,” Tatu said.
He said they were embarking on an awareness campaign to educate followers about the precautions.