Johannesburg – The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has warned that churches need to be innovative, now more than ever, in how they conduct their services.
Its statement comes amid fears that elderly congregants, because of underlying conditions, were the most vulnerable and susceptible to contracting Covid-19 infections.
Responding to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the ban on religious gatherings had been lifted as from next week, SACC acting general-secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana called on church leaders to tell their followers not to subject themselves to a risk of infection during services.
Talking to SAFM’s Sunrise show on Wednesday morning, Mpumlwana said the SACC had advised churches to rather “play music, (and) don’t sing”.
He further said in his comments: “Elderly people stay at home I know that these (elderly people) are the ones who really love to go to church.”
Reports have indicated that health specialists in America had advised that church services exclude singing because of risks through talking as “infected respiratory droplets can increase greatly”.
“The SACC has a special delegated website for Covid-19, which is called churchinaction.org.za, and through that, we are trying to guide and advise,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) (SA) has in a statement welcomed Ramaphosa’s move.
“The MJC continues to consult with medical professionals on the current developments, and how best to ensure the safety of our community.
“The MJC urges the community to co-operate with their respective Masajid (place of worship) and to adhere to the general guidelines,” read the MJC statement.
Controversial Bishop Bheki Ngcobo, who is the chairperson of God’s Church Must Rise movement, said while he welcomed the opening of the church services, he was concerned at the restriction that still existed, which included a limit of 50 congregants per service.
“We would love to be made aware of the duration of this 50 members requirement, taking into consideration the high number of our members that will fail to access the church (service) on a particular Sunday. We are eagerly waiting for a point in time where the church will be allowed to operate in full force,” said Ngcobo, who was recently convicted and fined for undermining Covid-19 restrictions.