Hope Restoration Ministries (HRM), has reported the results of a survey it conducted to ascertain the level of interest to return to church by its congregants under Level 3 of lockdown.
The survey, which ran for five days, received nearly 2 000 responses.
LEVEL 3: 80% NOT COMFORTABLE GOING TO CHURCH
An outstanding 80% of the respondents indicated that they were not comfortable to immediately return to church and worship under Level 3 lockdown regulations.
In the comments section, many of the respondents cited that though they missed going to church, they were not prepared to risk their lives and that it would be premature to resume services.
"As a church, we should be responsible and put the lives of people first. Let us protect our people and avoid resuming church services until [the] end of winter," read one of the comments.
Furthermore, 88% indicated that the church should wait and watch how the pandemic develops in the next few months of the winter season. In addition, 62% were happy for the church to continue with its online services.
Respondents also selected HRM's Soweto TV and TBN television programmes as the most ideal option to support its efforts to spread its messages. This option was selected by 42% of the respondents.
"We would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to the survey. The survey results were an endorsement of our decision not to resume services under the Level 3 lockdown regulations," said one of its lead pastors Reverend Phindi Mathebula.
CHURCH WILL NOT RESUME
In a statement issued on behalf of the church last week, Mathebula said that after extensively reviewing the opportunity to resume services effective Monday 1 June 2020, HRM had taken the decision not to resume church services under Level 3 lockdown regulations.
This was after it took various factors into account especially putting the health and safety of "God's people first." He said the church would wait and observe the developments between now and the end of the winter season, at which point they would revisit their decision.
"Let us embrace the change that we are faced with and use this opportunity to be a part of the remodelling of our church. Let us also all be filled with hope and take comfort in knowing that together we will rise above this. This too shall pass!" he added.
HRM is a Bible-based church which was founded in 2001 by its Lead Pastors, Rev. Siphiwe Christopher and Phindi Mathebula. The church has six campuses in Gauteng, namely Chloorkop, Tembisa, Roodeport, Midrand, Springs and Ebony Park.
RAMAPHOSA GIVES RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS THE GO AHEAD
President Cyril Ramaphosa, on 26 May, announced that religious gatherings would be permitted under lockdown Level 3.
The decision was taken after the National coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) consulted with religious leaders, and took into consideration several recommendations made in the meeting.
Ramaphosa announced that religious gatherings would be allowed to resume, on the conditions that social distancing is adhered to and there is a limit of no more than 50 people.
"We understand the great impact that the closure of places of worship have had on members of the faith community, and that this has worsened the distress of communities who are unable to worship in congregation," he said.
Bishop Bheki Ngcobo later opposed the limit of 50 people, saying it was too low. Ngcobo argued that it would be difficult for churches that have around 1 000 congregants.
"If you want to break down that number of 1 000, how can you do it with one premises? A person that is responsible for this 1 000, it will be very hard," added Ngcobo.