The presiding bishop of Grace Bible Church (GBC) has called on South Africans to hold on to their faith during the current coronavirus crisis which, he said, is one of the challenging times experienced by every generation.
“This is one of those matters that need us to hold on to our faith and pray for a vaccine to be found in time to save lives,” said Bishop Mosa Sono, the founder of the church.
Bishop Sono was speaking at a meeting of the church leadership.
On Sunday, after GBC hosted a service dedicated to raising awareness of Covid-19, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), IOL reported.
“The majority of those who were diagnosed early and received treatment have recovered well enough to return to their normal lives in other countries,” he said.
“We believe in the steps that are recommended by health professionals and urge all of us to be calm and not panic, as this too shall pass.”
GBC has more than 60 branches countrywide, and its services are attended by some 30 000 members.
Bishop Mosa Sono said it was best that the church addressed Covid-19.
A presentation was made on the history of the virus and the preventative measures people can take to safeguard themselves.
The experts recommended basic hygiene and advised people to self-isolate if they weren’t feeling well enough to go to work.
They emphasised that reported cases in the country related to people who had travelled abroad recently.
In the main presentation Dr Noluthando Nematswerini focused on Covid-19 transmission and ways to prevent it.
She reiterated that people needed to promote hygiene by regularly washing their hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. “We also have to disinfect surfaces,” she added
“If you suspect that you may have the virus, the nationwide coronavirus hotline is 080-002-9999. Let us work together in preventing this disease to spread.”
She urged those who displayed symptoms not to go to hospitals or doctors because this would expose others to infection.
She also discouraged people from buying up supplies of latex gloves and face masks, saying these should be left for those who work in healthcare facilities.
The church has also released a statement regarding changes that will soon be implemented in light of the pandemic.
While GBC services will continue to be held at 9am and followed by Equipping Hour, the Next Generation Ministries will be cancelled. Children will remain with the congregation during services. Although they appear to get mild symptoms when infected, they can effectively transmit the virus to higher-risk individuals.
In future the worship centre will have more aisles, thus shorter rows. Members are urged to be considerate in allowing families to sit together with a chair or aisle separation between households to allow for social distancing.
Communion will be suspended while investigations are under way to find the best way to take it forward.
The church has also asked members to refrain from handshakes, hugs or other close interpersonal contact at services and smaller gatherings until the pandemic has passed.
Members are also urged to stay home if they are sick and possibly contagious. “If in the last 72 hours, they have had any potential symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in close contact with somebody who has, please stay home and Livestream our service.”
These symptoms include a body temperature of 38°C or higher, a sore or scratchy throat or coughing.
“If you are in a high-risk category [immunocompromised, elderly, diabetic, or heart/lung problems], please also consider staying home from church and taking advantage of our Livestream.”
Donuts will no longer be served at Equipping Hour.
Members were directed to consult with church elders if they have further questions, and the leadership promised further communications on the pandemic and any other changes to current arrangements.