Boitumelo Makhurane, columnist
MOST churches in Bulawayo yesterday complied with new lockdown regulations banning public gatherings, most of them using virtual services.
Last week, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Welfare Constantino Chiwenga tightened lockdown rules where all gatherings except funerals are banned.
Church leaders said the cancellation of utilities was in line with lockdown regulations to combat the spread of the deadly global pandemic, which has killed nearly 4 million people worldwide.
A Chronicle press team traveled to the city and observed that a number of churches in the western and eastern suburbs had their doors locked in accordance with lockdown regulations.
However, some members of the apostolic faith cult worshiping in open spaces have defied the lockdown rules.
The senior pastor in charge of the Brothers in Christ Church (BICC), Bulawayo Central, Rev. Ndabezinhle Nyathi said the government ban on public gatherings was aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic.
“The government has done the right thing by banning public gatherings as new cases are on the rise. We encourage our devotees and all Zimbabweans to wear face masks in public places, to disinfect their hands and to practice social distancing as well as to avoid unnecessary movements, ”he said.
Reverend Nyathi said his church has resorted to online sermons.
“We now conduct sermons online; we use facebook and zoom in to reach our followers. Every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. we have a sermon in Sunday school and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. we have the main service. The ban on gatherings did not stop us from preaching the word of God, which is why we resorted to online sermons. During the week we also publish sermons and musical audios. Every morning I send a devotional message and it is shared on different media platforms. We have also created discussion groups where we record audios, ”he said.
The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zimbabwe (ELCZ) for the Western Diocese, Bishop Michael Dube, said: “We have respected the government’s ban on public gatherings, which is very necessary given of the surge in Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe. There is a need to protect lives and as a church we have used virtual services, which we live stream and share on various social media platforms, ” he said.
Bishop Dube urged other worshipers to open WhatsApp groups to share sermons, scriptures and songs.
Bulawayo-based prophet, founder and leader of the Christ Life Generation Church, Prophet Black Elisha, said his church welcomed the decision and resorted to virtual space.
A majority of churches have resorted to opening groups for services and using the cheaper WhatsApp platform.
Most worshipers said they worshiped privately in their homes yesterday with support in the form of live streaming, downloads, or printed worship packages and sermons, which were made available to members through of their pastors. – @ Boity104