Boitumelo Makhurane, Chronicle Reporter
MOST churches in Bulawayo yesterday complied with the new lockdown regulations banning public gatherings with most of them resorting to conducting virtual services.
Vice-President and Health and Child Care Minister Constantino Chiwenga last week tightened lockdown regulations where all gatherings except funerals are banned.
Church leaders said the cancellation of public services is in compliance with lockdown regulations to combat the spread of the deadly global pandemic, which has killed almost 4 million people worldwide.
A Chronicle news crew moved around the city and observed that a number of churches in the western and eastern suburbs had their gates locked in compliance with lockdown regulations.
However, some members of the apostolic faith sect worshipping in open spaces, defied the lockdown regulations.
Senior Pastor in charge of Brethren in Christ Church (BICC), Bulawayo Central, Reverend Ndabezinhle Nyathi said the ban on public gatherings by Government is meant to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“Government did the right thing by banning public gatherings because new cases are increasing. We encourage our congregants and the generality of Zimbabweans to wear face masks in public places, sanitise their hands and practise social distancing as well as avoiding unnecessary movements,” he said.
Rev Nyathi said his church has resorted to online sermons.
“We are now conducting online sermons; we use Facebook and zoom to reach our congregants. Every Sunday from 9AM to 10AM we have a Sunday school sermon and from 10AM to 11AM we have the main service. The ban on gatherings did not stop us from preaching the word of God that is why we have resorted to online sermons. During the week we also post sermons and musical audios. Every morning, I send a devotion message and it is shared on various media platforms. We have also created chat groups where we record audios,” he said.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) leader for the Western Diocese, Bishop Michael Dube said: “We have complied with the Government’s ban on public gatherings, which is very necessary given the spike in Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe. There is need to protect lives and as a church we have resorted to conducting virtual services, which we livestream and share on various social media platforms,’’ he said.
Bishop Dube urged fellow congregants to open WhatsApp groups to share sermons, scriptures and songs.
Bulawayo-based prophet who is the founder and leader of Christ Life Generation Church Prophet Black Elisha said his church welcomed the move and has resorted to the virtual space.
A majority of churches have resorted to opening groups for services and using the cheaper WhatsApp platform.
Most congregants said they worshipped privately in their homes yesterday with support in the form of live streaming, downloading or printed worship packages and sermons, which were availed to members through their pastors. — @Boity104