28 May 2020
The Right to Worship
Earlier this week, on the 26th May, the President made an announcement to reopen places of worship from the 1st June 2020, following two months of level 4 Lockdown. TEASA, along with and as part of the SACC has wrestled with government about the issue of how the religious liberties of the churches could be managed in ways that mitigate against the risks of infection. Our view was that the government hold off the reopening until it was safer to do so. We also offered, in the event that reopening came sooner, that at least some protocols be observed to limit spikes in infection.
The President was clearly negotiating a difficult balance of protecting lives as well as livelihoods. It was a difficult choice to make, and we encourage TEASA members to continue to pray for him and his cabinet colleagues in the difficult days and months ahead.
Understandably, churches are divided about whether or not this is unmitigated bad or good news. Whichever side of the aisle one falls, the ball is in the hands of the churches. We have to demonstrate that we have the capacity to avert the very real prospect of becoming a major site of the transmission of the COVID 19 virus, especially in the township and rural churches. This is because many in those communities simply did not observe the lockdown rules in the first place, as they were supposed to, and show little sign of conversion in that regard. Reasons are many and varied, and it is not necessary to list them. The stark reality is that many in those communities will probably be overrun by the pandemic, especially in this winter season.
According to StatsSA, 55% of South Africans are in dire poverty, with their immune system compromised and as vulnerable as the elderly. Some 300,000 people with TB, about 7 million people with HIV/AIDS, some 2 million are said not to be on anti-retroviral medication. Further, a significant percentage of South Africans, have conditions such as renal failure, and will require dialysis for the rest of their lives.
As the green light to re-gather is given to churches, let us prepare and pray for:
A discerning leadership
Given the fact that some churches are at a clear disadvantage in comparison to others in terms of their vulnerability to COVID 19 infection and transmission, it is the call of the leaders in those communities to delay gatherings, in spite of the State President’s permission. Shepherds are called upon to do all they can to safeguard their flock in times of danger. Gatherings of all sort have been known to be strong points of risk for transmission.
Such delay in gathering is not to be viewed as a weakness or a sign of unbelief. Nor should people be judged for staying home rather than go to church. The “Stay at home” message, where it is possible to do so, remains an important weapon in our war against the Pandemic. We must not drop it. Nor should we allow regathering of churches to signal business as usual.
A TEASA Technology & Media Webinar will be offered online on 4th June 2020 at 3pm. A session in helping churches for physical gatherings will also feature in the webinar. BE sure to register on
Webinar ID: 811 8501 6678
Participant ID: 248193
International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kb4tXGuxi3
Covid 19 Competent churches.
We wish it were not so, but many churches struggle with compliance issues. The CRL commission flagged this matter in the recent past. Let us pray and prepare our churches to be COVID 19 competent churches, so that they able to deal with the challenge of the pandemic through compliance with accepted protocols for worship gathering. See Government gazzete.
Also see Churchinaction.org.za a website specially designed by Heartlines to accompany churches as they confront the Pandemic.
Moments of crisis tend to test the character of a people more severely than is possible at other times. The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of our society, especially to poor communities, where running water, sanitizers and masks are luxuries? Thankfully there are many wonderful signs of such social solidarity especially in the provision of food security.
How might more resourced churches come alongside poorer churches? This will be a challenge, especially where there are no existing church to church relationships across the economic fault lines of our society. TEASA is could help connect your congregation with others if need be.
A miracle of a stay of the plague
In the end, we will need a miracle of God that the COVID 19 pandemic may end sooner and swiftly, rather according the projections of science. Our God is able.
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