Rev Bonganjalo S Mbenenge, Thembalethu:
I am concerned that the church is perceived as a high risk place where people can be contaminated with the Covid-19 virus. If churches put all measures in place as stipulated by government (as other industries who have been allowed to operate have been required to) and observe guidelines as stipulated by the body of churches (SACC), such as masking, sanitising, deep cleaning, no singing and the like, what qualifies it to be more dangerous than malls, work places, public transport, schools, public clinics, bottle stores, and the like?
Churches have been conducting many funerals around the country in Level 4 with safety measures in place resulting in the safety of all people. I am aware of instances where people who attended funerals have been reported to have spread or come into contact with the virus, but most of these funerals did not happen in church buildings but in family homes under Level 5.
My view is that churches who are able to comply with required hygiene standards and have trained personnel to conduct services, can open their churches if they want to do so. One must also appreciate the expense invested in ensuring good hygiene.
One of the many reasons our local congregation considered that it will not be opening, is because of the underpinned stigmatisation expressed by the media and politicians alike. Our church feels like it is a target and will be used as a scapegoat, if we decided to open its doors.
How would we even be able to prove that if someone dies who attended our service, [they] did not get the virus at our church? Impossible, therefore we stay closed.
Some people still want to go to church. For example, some families prefer funerals to be conducted in the church building if that option is available to them. They should be afforded the opportunity to worship in peace, free from being classified as irresponsible.
(Also read the article by Eugene Gunning elsewhere in the paper. Ed)