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Churches heed president’s call

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Churches in Kimberley had a limited number of people who attended services while others opted to close their doors

RELIGIOUS leaders in Kimberley yesterday also heeded the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of the coronavirus by not gathering in large groups.

Churches in Kimberley had a limited number of people who attended services while others opted to close their doors.

Congregants who did attend church services sat about one metre apart as part of new social distancing recommendations.

Church leaders said that while they realised that many residents and congregants might be fearful of the coronavirus and seek comfort from the church, leaders had to abide by the law to keep congregants safe from infection.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo said that although the new regulations might disturb or upset congregants who are tied to custom and tradition, it is a sacrifice that they will have to make and to respect in order to not become a “statistic” or a possible danger to others.

“We have been advised to adopt behaviours which are salutary. This concerns the life and health of every person and we are responsible for one another. The enemy which threatens our lives is invisible, insidious and we have no weapons to fight it directly,” said Nxumalo.

He said that due to the precautionary measures imposed, some of the church’s events have been suspended.

“All public celebrations, even the celebrations of the Holy Week, have been suspended and obligations to attend these services have been lifted. Those who act in contrary to this must bear in mind that they do so at their own risk and the detriment of public life and health.

“The Holy Week celebrations are celebrated each year and skipping the celebrations this year will not result in the end thereof. Therefore, Holy Week will be celebrated next year and we trust that, God willing, everything will return to normal. Let this year’s Holy Week be a Family Holy Week,” said Nxumalo.

The Dean of the Kimberley Diocese, Father Victor Tlhole, said that they will keep a church attendance register during the weekly church services in order to monitor the number of attendees, which might assist the Department of Health should there be an outbreak in the city.

The Christian Revival Church (CRC) founder and Senior Pastor, At Boshoff, advised congregants to gather in smaller groups on Sundays and to watch live stream services.

In a video posted on social media, Boshoff assured members that the service quality will be the same.

“I realise this is a challenging time and we are in uncharted territory. At the same time, I know God has prepared us for this with our cell structure. God will use us as a church to reach many people. This decision is not motivated by fear but on the contrary, it is motivated by the love for people and the country. We want to see the spread of this virus stopped as soon as possible. It is not only the churches that are affected by this decision, the economy is also affected. Let us work together and not embrace a spirit of indifference and begin to criticise leaders for lack of faith. I have to take a responsible decision to take care of your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being,” said Boshoff.

He also slammed rumours that the five people in Bloemfontein who are infected with coronavirus, contracted the virus during a conference hosted by CRC. It was later reported that the five people were tourists who had attended the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast hosted by Divine Restoration Ministries in Ribblesdale, Bloemfontein.

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said two of the tourists were from Texas in the United States, two from Israel and one from France, who arrived in South Africa between March 9 to 11 to attend the church gathering, which had over 200 people.