KZN churches take cautious approach to resuming services

Shembe Church
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With religious gatherings permitted under level 3 of the national lockdown, many churches around KwaZulu-Natal have taken the decision not to reopen their doors.

The Shembe Nazareth Baptist Church has confirmed to SABC News that members won’t be gathering just yet.

“We took a decision that we cannot worship because we are a very big church, our numbers are extremely high. We decided that congregants should rather pray at home. If we can allow our people to worship chances are very high that we break the regulation of keep to 50 people. So for now we are worshiping from home,” explains Phenius Ncwane, who is the spokesperson of the Thembezinhle faction.

The Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfred Napier, has also confirmed that the reopening of places of worship in their respective jurisdictions would be postponed. This is to allow for adequate preparations, including awareness workshops for Priests.

In the video below, various SA religion leaders react the the reopening of churches:

Others have however decided to take advantage of government’s decision to allow worship to resume. They say they are ready enforce strict rules to protect their members from COVID-19.

Chairman of the Durban Hindu Temple  Rajesh Soni says all devotees will be screened before entering the temple.

“Currently at the moment Durban Hindu temple is closed but we will officially open the public on the 11th of June ensuring that all the necessary precautions and systems are in place. When the devotee arrives at the temple, normally sanitising will take place; thereafter they will be guided to the administration block where a temperature check will be done together with all relevant details so that in the event of tracing we will have then on hand,” explains Soni.

Soni says while it is disappointing that some of the rituals and practices will not be performed – to protect devotees, a change is necessary.

“All devotees bringing their food to the temple will unfortunately have to take it back. There will be no sharing of fruits together with any liquids. In terms of taking blessings from the priest one has to adhere to the 1.5 metre distances,” says Soni.

General-Secretary of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Holy Spirit Church in Zion, in Pietermaritzburg, Reverend Nkosinathi Robert Lubanyana, says they will also not be taking chances with people’s lives.

“For people to go back they must make sure the environmental is safe and the places of worship are safe there is proper sanitation of the actual church there environment is ready for the people to come in and also to make sure that as the congregants come in they and sanitized they have the mask, there are the scans and there is a register that needs to be kept there with the details of the whoever if coming into the church do that you can trace and track the people,” says Lubanyana.

Places of worship have been urged to ensure that their numbers are limited to not more than 50 devotees.

Meanwhile several religious organisations, across the faith spectrum, have chosen to continue with virtual services.

Below is a graphic that highlights level 3 lockdown regulations: