Millions of congregants across the country are pinning their hopes on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government allowing church services to resume under level 3 of the lockdown.
Religious delegations met Ramaphosa this week in a bid to persuade him to consider the reopening of churches, albeit under stringent conditions.
Government is getting ready to ease the lockdown regulations and revive the ailing economy.
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana from the SA Council of Churches told SowetanLIVE’s sister publication TimesLIVE on Friday that during the meeting with Ramaphosa suggestions were put forward on how churches could operate under level 3.
Mpumlwana said they handed a document to Ramaphosa, providing guidelines on how churches could operate should they be permitted to operate.
The SA Council of Churches is the facilitating body for 24 Christian churches, together with one observer member and associated para-church organisations. SACC members include Protestant, Catholic, African Independent and Pentecostal churches.
Mpumlwana said the document contained “norms and standards” under which churches would operate.
“We asked ourselves what was the condition that we could return to worship. We want to make sure that we are not transmitters. We said that 50 worshippers was a good enough number. If we can do it for funerals, we can do it for church services only if we comply with Covid-19 regulations,” he said.
A number of suggestions included ways to handle offerings, communion and singing at services.
He said church buildings would be sterilised thoroughly before opening and regularly thereafter.They also suggested that more church services be held during the week to cater for congregants.
Churches could also have home services with at least five families in their communities, he said.
A register of those attending different church services would be kept and no member would be allowed to attend more than one service. The register would also make contact tracing easier, he said.
Mpumlwana said Ramaphosa told them that gatherings would have been considered only under level 1.
“He [Ramaphosa] said he needed a few days to think about it and then he would come back to us.
“It is possible to self-regulate and we believe it can be done.”