PBC Elders response to Level 3 Lockdown

PBC Elders response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement regarding religious services:

Dear Church Family,

We have decided that it would not be in the best interests of our church or community to return to holding physical church services at present, especially in the light of Cape Town being a Hotspot for Covid-19 and that, due to the size of our congregations, such services would result in the exclusion of many. Internationally churches have sometimes unwittingly been responsible for spreading the virus and we do not wish to be responsible for the spread of this disease within our community. We also feel that we should model good behaviour to our wider community — despite the move to Level 3 lockdown, people are still being urged to stay at home as much as possible. We acknowledge that people are understandably tired of this, but the aim of this is to ensure that (while people will still become infected), not everyone gets infected all at once thus potentially overwhelming our health care facilities and causing unnecessary hardship and death. We realise that not meeting together physically will be disappointing for some folk but we feel that the progression of this disease in our country is too uncertain and in Cape Town is too rapid at this time. We will continue to monitor this and keep you up to date on our further discussions.

However, the announcement has created several opportunities for immediate action:

National Day of Prayer

We wholeheartedly support the call for a National Day of Prayer. Our prayer will be formed by our faith Jesus Christ and by his call to us, as his people, to be salt and light, a picture and promise of redeeming love to a world in need. We will be making time during our different services on Sunday for special prayer.

Personal Ministry

We are grateful that the presidency has declared members of the clergy to be an essential frontline service. This means that if you do need ministry, counselling or prayer for any reason you are welcome to contact us and we can arrange a time and a place that will be safe. For this very reason the church buildings and facilities well need to be strictly managed. We ask all members and ministry leaders to NOT access the premises unless accompanied by a member of staff, who will be aware of the strict protocols that must be upheld.

Improve Our Online Capacity

We are very grateful that as a church we have the technology that allows us to connect with one another to a certain extent. Ironically, the added flexibility that Level 3 will bring will enable us to improve our online capacity and quality. While grateful to our people and teams for the tremendous effort in learning and delivering worship services that are meaningful, inspiring and retain a sense of community, we know they have faced challenges. We plan to keep experimenting and to keep learning how to minister even more effectively during this time.

Church Continues

We also remember that church buildings don’t need to be open for us to connect with our Lord Jesus and with others. Prayer, reading, worship, keeping in contact, staying accountable, acts of kindness and service of others can all be done from our homes.

We will continuously review what ministry opportunities are open to us. However, we all need to see what the detailed requirements from Government are before we proceed. Please feel free to contact your pastor or any of the elders should you have recommendations in this regard.

Our decision above in no way implies any value judgements on churches that for many good reasons may choose to meet. Our own congregations and ministries are likely to have different timelines in this regard. We extend grace to all, especially those who are in low risk areas of our country, or are normally small in number and/or do not have the resources to construct an online infrastructure. We honour them and will pray that the Lord will bless them and keep them safe. We remain concerned that almost all interventions, no matter how well-intentioned, including this one, continue to highlight the desperate inequalities among the people (and churches) of our land.

In all of this uncertainty and mixed emotion we remind ourselves that we have a living hope — the Lord Jesus Himself and that ours is an inheritance that can never perish spoil or fade. And so, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

With deep love and warm appreciation for you all,

Your Pastors and Elders