Dear Brothers and Sisters, dear Friends, it has become necessary to provide you with an update on our Church activities because of changes in the legislation of the different countries in our District Apostle Area.
Following the announcement of President Nuysi on Thursday, 04 February 2021: All religious activities are suspended for 30 days. This means we cannot have any divine services, except funerals, until 05 March 2021. The maximum number of attendees to funerals is 20 and in the case of a COVID death, it is 10. Please, I urge you to comply with these restrictions.
2. Return to church
From 10 February 2021, ALL DIVINE SERVICES AND CHURCH ACTIVITIES RESUME IN SOUTH AFRICA, BOTSWANA, AND NAMIBIA
• Great news!! Divine services with Sacraments (including, Holy Communion, Holy Baptism and Holy Sealing) are permitted but limited to 50 attendees or less.
• In-person meetings and Sunday School lessons can also take place in our church buildings limited to 50 and in full observance of COVID-19 protocols.
• Attendees to funerals remain limited to a maximum of 50 persons.
- During a funeral, a person must wear a face mask and adhere to all health protocols and social distancing measures.
- After funeral gatherings are not allowed.
• The duration of a funeral service should not exceed 40 minutes.
• Wedding ceremonies are once again permitted in church buildings, or a building usually used for church services and is limited to 50 attendees. The same restriction applies to the solemnization (legal) part. Please note couples, in South Africa, Home Affairs offices will only start registering marriages after 15 February 2021.
• All ministerial acts will commence from 14 February 2021. In addition to retirements which we have done up to now, these will include ordinations and appointments. (This excludes Botswana)
• The fact that Holy Baptism and Holy Sealing were not allowed for close to 1 year means that there are huge backlogs in the congregations. I appeal for your patience and understanding as your Rectors address the backlogs over the next few divine services.
Good news for our Confirmands!!
Confirmation will take place from Sunday 14 March 2021. (This excludes Botswana where we await permission to administer acts & blessings)
Where all Confirmands and their guests cannot be accommodated in one divine service, the following options are available:
• The Rector can plan to have Confirmation spread over three Sundays (14, 21 or 28 March 2021). For the Rectors, this year we are making an exception where acts can take place on a festive day (Palm Sunday). Where needed, more than one service per congregation can be arranged.
• Allow me to issue a caution – It is not wise or legal to have Confirmation parties during this time. Parents and Confirmands, I appeal for restraint and wisdom in this regard.
• The Rector can stream the Confirmation services to the congregation via a private link – meaning that divine service is for that congregation.
Rectors, we have placed 5 demonstration videos on our website. These videos will guide you as to the correct procedures for blessings and sacraments to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Visits to members
• All visits of Priestly ministers remain suspended until further notice. Priests, please remain in a contact relationship with your members but visits to homes are not allowed. Priests, where contact with your members have been lost over this period, please rekindle the relationship.
• Special pastoral matters – where a face-to-face interaction needs to happen, these are to take place in our church buildings where all COVID-19 protocols will be followed.
Broadcasting and streaming of divine services
• We will continue to broadcast the central Sunday divine services on all platforms until 31 March 2021.
• The central language-specific midweek services will stop with immediate effect.
• To replace this, congregations which have the facilities to stream their divine services can do so every Wednesday via a private link. One of these divine services will be opened to the rest of the Apostle area for those who wish to connect to the midweek service.
• If needed, and where the infrastructure is in place, this can also take place on Sunday mornings. Please adhere to the 3-day rule where divine services are taken down after 3 days.
I once again remind all of us:
• wear a face mask;
• maintain social distance;
• Wash and sanitise your hands regularly.
Thank you for your attention and I wish you well as we start our return to church.
District Apostle John Kriel