Lockdown regulations are lifting and South African churches are now permitted to reopen their doors with no more than 50 people attending one gathering.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the new change on 24 May.
Mixed reactions have come about from churches and community members, reports Bedfordview and Edenvale news.
Greenstone’s Redemption Church and Edenvale’s Hillside Methodist Church shared their standing regarding the new regulations.
Hillside Methodist Church
Rev Brian Hutton said this was a serious decision that needed to be made with prayerful discernment.
“We cannot rush this decision nor take it lightly.”
Past Joshua McCauley said this change did not necessarily assume that churches were to resume as normal.
“While we welcome the recognition of churches as essential by the government, we believe churches should only reopen their regular services when it is practically possible for them to conform fully to all of the safety guidelines.”
McCauley added they were pleased the government has acknowledged the essential role churches are playing within our community in responding to the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding across our city.
“We interpret this change to the current lockdown legislation as something that allows churches to legally participate in serving and feeding the most vulnerable in their community.
“The restrictions imposed of less than 50 people, under strict safety guidelines, mean gathering for regular church services might be practically premature for many churches, including ours.”
Redemption Church will therefore not open their building for church services under the current restrictions, said the leader.
“We will, however, continue to be part of meeting the practical needs of our community by supplying food and hygiene hampers to families in need in our area.”
McCauley added that so far they have been able to provide thousands of food hampers to people through an initiative called Jesus Cares, which is a partnership with their congregation, other organisations and churches in vulnerable communities around the city.
“This partnership ensures that the food is distributed to where it is needed the most.
“We will continue to produce services online that allow people to worship with us from their homes.
“These services are aired on all social media and website platforms.”
The pastor’s message to the community was that this crisis would pass.
“For now, we must focus our energy on uniting to help one another. Let us continue to be a part of sharing hope, finding solutions and supporting each other through this incredibly tough time for all.”