South Africa News

Churches want the government to rethink ban on gatherings

The case between the church and state will continue in the High Court in Johannesburg to set aside the ban on religious gatherings as contained in the Covid regulations.

Earlier this year AfriForum and Solidarity Helping Hand, six churches, and other religious groups and organizations filed a motion against the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for banning faith-based gatherings during the lockdown.

The matter was still ongoing. Pastor Zelda Wood from the Real Life Church in Krugersdorp said as a church, they complied with the law.

“It has affected in-person attendance and finance, but the church is resilient and we found different ways to win,” she said.

Wood said when religious gatherings were banned she launched the online church.

“It was new and people enjoyed it,” she said.

Pastor Amanda Mitchell of AGS Hatfield in Pretoria said the church represents the community.

“So it affects the whole community when the church is confined,” she said.

Michell added that before the lockdown the church had 150 registered numbers. When the hard lockdown hit Michell she took the church services to online platforms.

“It was incredibly labour-intensive,” she said. She said the whole community was impacted by the banning of religious gatherings.

“It was immediately an income that did not come in,” she said.

Michell said members of the church have fortunately been loyal to the contribution of their tithe.

“It was something we could work on,” she said.

Michell said because the congregation was small they rented out parts of their facility for an extra income.

“All those rentals were just so cut off during the lockdown.

“Our income was radically affected and also the salaries of the staff and admin workers,” she added.

Michell said her previous attendance of 150 members dropped to 23 attending members after the first hard lockdown was eased.

“We had to moderately win the people back because the contact with the community was cut off during a lockdown,” she said.

Michell said instead of giving up she focused to keep the church open.

“There were times when one gets physically ill from worry and frustration. It was wild and bad and still bad but we sometimes have to bite on our teeth and pray and push through,” she said.

-The Citizen

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