The choir sings during services on at St. Philip African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta on Sunday, March 15, 2020. Only about 100 people filled a sprawling sanctuary that seats more than a thousand at the church because of coronavirus fears. Pastor William Watley told congregants he would follow officials' guidance on whether to continue services after Sunday, calling for prayer during the epidemic. (Jeff Amy/Associated Press)
The choir sings during services on at St. Philip African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta on Sunday, March 15, 2020. Only about 100 people filled a sprawling sanctuary that seats more than a thousand at the church because of coronavirus fears. Pastor William Watley told congregants he would follow officials' guidance on whether to continue services after Sunday, calling for prayer during the epidemic. (Jeff Amy/Associated Press)

Coronavirus: Methodist Church of Southern Africa cancels Easter services

By Staff Writer Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has announced that all Good Friday and Easter Sunday services have been cancelled. This is due to the ongoing clampdown by various sectors in the wake of the Covid-19 spread. 

There have been more than 60 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa. On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster. 

In a statement issued on Monday, the church said there should therefore be no extended 7 Words services that require catering. 

"Creative methodologies such as live streaming and recordings will be utilised to ensure that no one is left out during this very important time in the church calendar," the church said. 

Presiding Bishop Reverend Purity Malinga, said all circuit gatherings for Easter will be cancelled. However, societies are urged to have short services with 100 or less congregants at a time.

Malinga said the church is encouraging e-worship services where possible. 

"Those handling communion should maintain the high hygiene protocols and individual communion cups are still considered the safest. However, these will need to be sterilised after use so they can be used again in another service. Communion can be postponed when the situation does not allow for it to be celebrated safely. Services can also be split up during the week," he said. 

Malinga said all conventions and youth synods are postponed with immediate effect. 

He said funerals and weddings needed to be smaller - less than 100 - and baptisms have been postponed. 

"We encourage all ministers to access the latest information on Covid-19 and provide regular updates to their congregants. In societies where a member has tested positive for Covid -19 or has been in contact with a large number of the congregation that a call be made, with the assistance of health authorities, for all affected members to self-isolate and be tested," Malinga said. 

A special prayer has been called for Thursday, March 26 where people can pray wherever they are. 

"In the midst of this global concern is the profound realisation that we are in this together and that we are indeed our sister and bothers keeper. It will call for leadership on the part of our ministers and creative synergies from all role players. 

"We are at this time reminded of our individual responsibility for the wellbeing of all of humanity," the church said. 

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