Churches adapt well to new rules

2020-03-23 14:30
The pews at St Mary’s Catholic Church on Sunday, that occupied no more than 99 people. Each row had about two to three people seated. This was to implement the regulations that were set by the president. (Makaziwe Khumalo)

The pews at St Mary’s Catholic Church on Sunday, that occupied no more than 99 people. Each row had about two to three people seated. This was to implement the regulations that were set by the president. (Makaziwe Khumalo)

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“Tick, sanitise and enter” was the routine on Sunday at St Mary’s Catholic Church in the city.

Father Sakubita Like said every person entering the church ticked off a number on a grid and was then sanitised and welcomed into the service.

Like said that the grid numbers went up to 100, but fortunately nobody had to be turned away because the congregation followed the Covid-19 regulations.

Like said there were three different venues for the morning service, and none of them was full.

“My sermon was shorter today because I didn’t want to keep people in a public space for too long. I’m happy with how everyone adhered to rules this morning,” said Like.

The Witness spoke to some congregants after the service, and they expressed their satisfaction with how things were being handled.

“We were seated very spaciously with only about three people on each pew. It felt strange but we understand why it had to be done,” said one woman.

Another woman who also asked not to be named said the service was uplifting, but the mood in the church was sombre in comparison to other days.

Most churches around the city cancelled their services temporarily.

A congregant at Hayfields Baptist Church said a service was held, but there were no more than 30 people in attendance.

Meanwhile, the seats were completely empty at Jacob’s Well Ministries in Northdale.

Pastor Neville Sewlall of Jacob’s Well Ministries in his empty church on Sunday. They decided to have small prayer groups at congregants’ homes instead of at the church. (Photo: Nash Narrandes)

Pastor Neville Sewlall told The Witness that the decision was made on Sunday morning to rather have church at alternate venues. Sewlall said this would limit human contact.

“We will continue to pray, just in smaller groups at our homes. We have some hygiene protocols in place even in that setting,” said Sewlall.

Sewlall further emphasised that the church is not closed.

“We are simply having smaller prayer groups at alternate venues for the safety of our congregation,” said Sewlall.

Not all churches complied with the regulations, however. In Folweni, a church gathering of more than 500 people proceeded without impediment, and included among congregants were several police officers.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala was set to engage with religious leaders from different faiths at 8 am on Monday morning at the Coastlands Hotel in Umhlanga.

Zikalala will be discussing how religious leaders can use their influence to assist the government in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  coronavirus
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