The group, Pastors Against Church Closures in Cape Town, has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow churches to increase their capacity of congregants to 50%.
Currently, only 50 people are allowed to attend a service. Apostle Zongamele Baliso of the Grace Community Church in Gugulethu and Langa says over 300 churches in the Western Cape are affected. He says they’ve petitioned the president on the 5th of February but to date, there has been no response.
Baliso says pastors offer many services to their communities, “Number one, if they have got a problem say a marriage problem, they are fighting with their husbands then people will come to me as a pastor to give advice and also to pray for them. Number two, you know that during the pandemic people have lost their loved ones so, one needs to go out and counsel, pray and comfort those people. Then number three, people have lost jobs so we need to derive and see how do we support this family in terms of food.”
Earlier this month, Christians in Kimberley, Northern Cape, flocked to their local congregations on Sunday morning, following the relaxation of Level 3 lockdown regulations. Fifty congregants are allowed per service and they must be sanitsed, the attendance register filled and temperature taken as per COVID-19 regulations.
Winner Chapel International in Kimberley is one of the churches that opened their doors again after a break of several weeks.
Believers who love to join in fellowship, are happy to be back:
Others have already approached the courts while others were holding marches.
They say if gatherings at places such as casinos and gyms are allowed, why not the church.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in South Africa, many churches were left with the option of either closing doors completely or moving to online services.
SABC’s Maageketla Mohlabe reports on churches appeal for restrictions to be lifted:
Church leader Bishop Kelly Tsedu-Muntswu was one of those with the option of going online. But only a few of over 250 members can participate, and Tsedu-Muntswu detests it.
“Online church is not church. I can’t even cater for the quarter of this congregation because of affordability and obviously, because of the gadgets that are used to do a proper live service.”
And the offering basket has been empty.
“One of the kingdom patterns we have as a church is offering and tithe, and that for us is not a burden, that’s how we operate.”
His sermons take at least an hour. At one point, there were data connection issues and he was forced to abandon the sermon.