Temperature checks, sanitiser and a Bible: Some Gauteng churches prepare to open this weekend

  • Among some of the churches due to open its doors this weekend is the popular Enlightened Christian Gathering headed by controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri.
  • The church's biggest branch in Pretoria, however, will remain closed due to safety concerns. 
  • Prophet Mboro's Incredible Happenings Church in Katlehong will also open, but under strict measures.

Some places of worship are gearing up for their first service this weekend since last gathering in March before the national lockdown was enforced.  

This after it was announced places of worship would be allowed to operate under Level 3 lockdown.

News24 previously reported some religious institutions had decided to keep their doors closed for safety reasons, while others are advising strict measures would be put in place before congregants gather.

Here are some that will be operating this weekend: 

Shepherd Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering 

Among some of the churches due to open its doors this weekend is the popular Enlightened Christian Gathering headed by controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri. 

The church had 110 branches across South Africa which have all been given a green light to continue under strict restrictions by its leadership, spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo said in a statement. 

Nyondo, however, added the church's biggest and only branch in Gauteng, where Bushiri often worships, would remain closed. The reasons behind the closure of the branch at the Pretoria Showgrounds is that hundreds flock there for services. 

Services at the venue could get up to 35 000 congregants, he said. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a week ago churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other recognised places of worship would not be allowed to have more than 50 congregants, and services would only be permitted to run for two hours.

The Enlightened Christian Gathering said it had always been concerned about the safety of its congregants which was why it had decided to keep the main branch closed.

READ | Catholic priest: Why it's wrong to open our churches

But the church added its online services have been ongoing with millions participating since the start of the lockdown.

"The prophet launched a successful live online church that is freely accessible to every member of the church across the globe. 

"More than 10 million people have been connecting to the online church and are able to interact with the prophet just like the physical church gathering. So, people are still being fed with the word of God," Nyondo said.

Bushiri's Pretoria branch was in the spotlight in 2019 after a stampede saw three people die at the venue in December 2018. 

Incredible Happenings Church

The leader of Incredible Happenings Church in Katlehong, Paseka "Mboro" Motsoeneng, said the church would be congregating on Sunday but strict measures would be in place.

This would include members having to state reasons why they needed to be in church.

Motsoeneng said the congregants who decided to attend would be screened and their records kept by the church. 

He added the venue would be cleaned, as it was before the lockdown started, and members attending would have to use hand sanitiser when they arrived. 

Congregants will sit 4m apart from each other to ensure physical distancing is adhered to. 

Motsoeneng told News24:

We will also be doing proper screening on the people who are coming to the church. Where they have been in the past seven days, 14 days, proper preparations and bookings for them to come to church on Sunday. We have been in that process engaging with them through our leadership structures.

Mboro said congregants would also be questioned on their lifestyle during Level 4 and 5 of the lockdown, adding they would need to say if they had observed health regulations before being allowed in.

He added congregants would also need to give reasons why they had come to church and what God and the church was "to them". Those without good reasons would not be allowed to attend.

Motsoeneng said as much as the church believed in God, it was willing to put safety first and not rush to welcome everybody. 

"There will be terms and conditions. We will not just allow anyone who will come for the first time. We must have that record and also their temperatures before they come in.

"People who are guaranteed entry are the people who are living, working in our essential businesses premises, that we know they were not mixing with everybody during this," he added. 

Church services will be broadcast on the church's social media platforms to reach those who cannot attend. 

"We will use our WhatsApp to send videos to them. We will use our Facebook, Prophet Mboro Times, to convey the message to our people. 

Alph Lukau's Alleluia Ministries International 

Meanwhile, Alleluia Ministries International would not be gathering physically but services would be streamed, its leader, Alph Lukau, said in a video shared to members.

Lukau added while the church was happy places of worship were allowed under Level 3, the executive agreed it was not yet time for the ministry to resume gathering.

"Therefore, I am here to inform you that we will wait a little longer before we resume our gatherings. We believe that the safety of our people comes first."

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