DURBAN – FOR THE first time this year, churches were on Sunday allowed to operate under strict measures where only 50 people were allowed to congregate.
Congregants lined up outside for hours, as leaders had to comply with the regulations regarding the number of people permitted inside the church.
Church gatherings were banned when the country returned to adjusted level 3 lockdown in December after they were also perceived by the government as super-spreader events of Covid-19.
One of the biggest churches in Durban, with more than 1 300 people attending the main Sunday morning service, The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), was also open for church service yesterday.
Church spokesperson Nametso Mofokeng said they were happy that they were allowed to hold church services for the first time in 2021.
She said the church ensured lockdown regulations were adhered to according to the instructions laid down by the government.
“People were very happy that finally, they get to go to church. Even though the churches were closed, we were offering one-on-one counselling and prayer every day. This was done to assist people who needed that type of service,” she said.
Mofokeng said at the entrance, they ensured screening, registration and sanitising were offered to everyone.
“The last service was offered at 2pm as we started at 8am. Older people were also requested not to come to church, however, they were encouraged to be part of the services through social media platforms,” said Mofokeng.
The Revolutionary Church of God in Durban CBD which, on a normal gathering, hosts more than 1 000, also opened its doors.
Dr Douglas Dziva, chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, said while they welcomed the reopening of churches, they also grieved the deaths of more than 180 faith leaders in KZN from December to the end of January.
Dziva urged church leaders in the province to take full responsibility of protecting congregants’ lives to keep themselves and fellow worshippers safe.
“For now, many of the churches have decided not to reopen their churches as yet and are planning to reopen much later. They will continue to stream their pre-recorded services online as a safer platform.
The Nazareth Baptist Church did not open for services, as the number of required congregants in the church was “too low”, with the church having thousands of members.