Pastors eager to open doors this weekend
With their prayers answered for the Government to relax tight COVID-19 restrictions which allow only a few congregants to gather for worship, a number of clergymen are pleased that some members unable to access online streams will be back in the fold.
The new measures were announced in Parliament on Tuesday, giving churches permission to have up to 30 members gathered for services as opposed to just 10 persons, including clergy and technical team to facilitate streaming of services.
The clergymen said that in-person church services will reduce the stress on the members who have had to be staying at home.
Although he would have preferred a relaxation during Easter – Christianity’s most important season, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Reverend Hartley Perrin, pastor of the St Peter’s Anglican Church in Petersfield, Westmoreland, was grateful, adding that he will ensure that COVID-19 guidelines are obeyed by his congregants this weekend.
“I am elated that we can again get back to worshipping God, even though our numbers are restricted, and we are happy to know that at least 30 of us can get together to praise God. We would have preferred if it were during the Easter time, which is our highest festival, but I will be opening the doors on Sunday morning for worship and admitting up to 29 of us to worship, and we will still have to ensure that social distancing is maintained and everybody coming in wears their masks,” said Perrin.
Pastor Glen Samuels, the president of the St James-based West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said the change would be celebrated by members who desire a physical location to relieve their spiritual burdens.
“I think this announcement is welcome news for the church, and while we continue to demand of persons that they follow the COVID-19 protocols, we are mindful of the stress and depression faced by those that are locked in at home, who want a place where they can feel safe to spiritually exhale and emotionally de-stress,” he said.
The Reverend Glenroy Clarke of the Lucea United Church in Hanover was also pleased.
“We are happy about the announcement because more persons can come to church who probably would not be able to join us online,” he told The Gleaner. “But the online opportunity was also a good ministry because we got a wider reach, not just locally, but overseas as well.”
The new church-service limit of 30 members, which took effect on Wednesday and will expire on May 14. Services must be held outside of curfew hours.
The ban on funeral services remains in effect, with only burials being permitted on weekdays for 30 minutes between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and with 10 mourners and five clergy and undertakers permitted. The gathering limit for weddings remains at 15 people.