Churches heed Govt call, suspend Easter gatherings

Churches heed Govt call, suspend Easter gatherings

Churches will not be hosting their traditional large Easter processions and gatherings, keeping the number attending each service to below the 50 limit imposed by Government under lockdown rules.

The 50 limit was about as far as health authorities could advise the Government to go when the level four lockdown was relaxed by President Mnangagwa at the beginning of March. 

But to avoid a third wave of infection this limit could not be raised further, even for the Easter services commemorating the most important festival in the Christian calendar.

Churches will continue using virtual meetings ,with only a limited number of congregants gathering on Sunday.

They said Easter is commemorated in remembrance of Jesus’ life hence Christians and citizens alike should remain steadfast as every hardship they are facing will come to an end.

Churches yesterday said they will observe Covid-19 regulations fully to prevent the spread of infections and called on Zimbabweans to be strong and not lose hope.

In a statement, the African Apostolic Church (Mwazha) said it was following the Government directive by abandoning gatherings during this Easter. 

General secretary Bishop Jeshua Mhizha said there wont be any gatherings throughout the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic

“I would like to let all African Apostolic Church members know that there is not going to be our usual Easter gathering at Guvambwa due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As you are aware, Government guidelines allow gatherings of only 50 people. It was going to be difficult to choose that number as you all want to go, so against this background there will be no gathering by the African Apostolic Church this Easter,” he said.

The Roman Catholic Church said due to the pandemic, they will also not hold mass gatherings. 

“We are restricting our numbers to 50 people as we follow the Covid-19 protocols laid down by Government. So, we have asked our people to come in small groups. This year’s Easter comes in the background of Covid-19 challenges. What we need is new hope and trust in the Lord so that we can overcome the pandemic and return to normal life,” Archbishop Alex Thomas of Bulawayo told our sister paper Chronicle on Tuesday.

Harvest House International Church Bishop Collins Nyathi said they will hold a physical conference with limited numbers of people.

Bishop Nyathi said since the outbreak of Covid-19, the church has been preaching the message of hope.

“The way forward for us is virtual, that is how we are going to conduct our sermons. But on Sunday that is when we are going to have physical attendance but also limiting our numbers to 50 people,” said Bishop Nyathi.

Family Covenant Church’s Pastor Polly Sibanda said under normal circumstances the church would have held a conference where congregants from its various branches gathered in one place for Easter service.

Pastor Sibanda said the church has resorted to hold virtual sermons to cater for its congregants.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches president Bishop Lazarus Khanye said it was critical for churches to adhere to Government regulations.

“What we want to say is that churches have to adhere to Covid-19 protocols so that we can safeguard members of the public from infections and reinfections. Also, we are also hoping that as members of the public attend church gatherings they stick to the restricted numbers so that in case of any eventualities, we can follow up on cases to safeguard human life. We also encourage Christians to pray so that this pandemic ends,” said Bishop Khanye.

“Easter time is a period to remember Jesus’ life, so Zimbabweans across the country need to understand that Jesus died for the people’s wellbeing so we have to learn to live in harmony as Jesus died for us.”

Government has put in place the necessary precautionary measures to curb the recurrence of a spike in Covid-19 during the Easter holiday with security agencies out in full force to ensure that citizens comply with the lockdown regulations.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said security agencies are on high alert to make sure that there will be no gatherings exceeding the 50 people allowed since the beginning of March. For the first two months gatherings were restricted to two people only.