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South African Church offers prayers and resources in ‘testing’ times

03 April 2020


Soldiers patrol the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday, after the President defended the 21-day national lockdown against the coronavirus

Soldiers patrol the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday, after the President defended the 21-day national lockdown against the coronaviru...

AS SOUTH AFRICA went into a strict three-week stay-at-home lockdown at midnight on Thursday of last week, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, warned that this would test the Church as never before, and has offered support from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA).

In a letter to clergy, laity, and parishioners two days previously, the Archbishop wrote that it “will test as never before our capacity as a Church to innovate and share with one another”.

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the nation on Monday when news broke of the first Covid-19 infection in a township: the partially informal and overcrowded Khayelitsha, near Cape Town. Mr Ramaphosa announced a “new phase” in the fight against Covid-19. Across the country, 10,000 field workers will carry out door-to-door screening for symptoms.

“This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive, and it is unprecedented in scale,” President Ramaphosa said of the race against time to stop Covid-19 from spreading.

Dr Makgoba also said that ACSA has decided “to offer our [church] facilities should they be needed, for testing, tracing, and treatment.”

Speaking of a country where many live in abject poverty, he added: “Feeding, if we lockdown for too long, is going to be a big challenge.” The ACSA Covid-19 advisory teams are looking at ways to achieve this.

ACSA has also set up a coronavirus resource page for prayer and worship to help clergy cope.

Archbishop Makgoba appealed to clergy to work “on new contextual liturgies and prayers for this season and beyond. The key is: be imaginative! Be bold! Be original!”

Church bells will ring every day at noon to remind people that they are not alone. Religious leaders have reached an agreement with the state broadcasting organisation to increase religious programming during the lockdown.

Resources can be found at anglicanchurchsa.org/coronavirus-resources-for-prayer-and-worship

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