8 May 2021
From the desk of the General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
In a call to all member church leaders, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) has appealed for all COVID-19 preventative protocols to remain upheld, particularly in the hotspot provinces. This call is made in light of the increase in numbers of Coronavirus infections in the country in recent days, especially in the provinces of the Northern Cape, the North West and the Free State. The observed increase in the daily rate of infections in the densely populated Gauteng Province has additionally prompted warnings from the provincial government to the public.
In March, ahead of the Easter weekend, the SACC appealed to the churches to manage the worship celebrations in full COVID-19 compliance and expressed concerns that any deviation could trigger the dreaded third wave of the virus. It is against this background that the SACC extends its appreciation to the churches for their restraint in their religious observances and celebrations, contributing to the containment of the virus during April. The churches were very considerate and sacrificial to save lives – after the manner of Christ who bore the sacrifice of his body on the cross, so that all may live.
“Our call to all member churches, and indeed to South Africa as a whole, is to double-down on all COVID-19 safety protocols. We have seen how well we can work together as a country when we adhere to preventative measures – let’s do that again and save lives,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, the General Secretary of the SACC. The safety protocols to adhere to remain the same, namely: Wearing masks covering the mouth and nose at all times in any and all public areas
1.Practising social distancing
2. Hand washing, and
Mpumlwana cautioned that ventilation will become a challenge as it gets colder, but urged South Africans to make all efforts to sustain the practice. “As the church, we have committed ourselves to the Drive to Drive Down the Coronavirus infection rate. Let us all do our part to keep safe so that collectively, we can contain the threat of the third wave,” he said.
The SACC continues in its advocacy for all South Africans to be vaccinated as the benefits both socially and economically when enough people are vaccinated will have far-reaching impacts.
The second phase of the vaccination rollout begins in the month of May, and starts with the vulnerable population of those 60 years and over, as well as those with pre-existing conditions of vulnerability, and of course the rest of the essential workers. “Our responsibility to all communities is to demonstrate the role of the Church in Action; we have an active role to play in supporting the efforts of Health Authorities in the vaccine rollout,” said Mpumlwana.
As such, the SACC is calling on all member churches and religious organisations to ensure that all qualifying persons in the sphere of life are registered. “The elderly are not readily on the electronics required for registration. There is evidence that they are most likely to get very ill, hospitalised and risk death. We must urge Government, and ensure that all the elderly are vaccinated before the heavy onset of winter. We now appeal to organised bodies like religious organisations and community structures and their young people, to get out there to identify and help the elderly in their neighbourhoods to register. If we do not register them, this could easily be their last winter in the world of the living,” he said.
The SACC has made these specific requests to all religious institutions:
- This weekend, 7-9 May, let each congregation identify a group of young volunteers who have tested negative for the Coronavirus, who are willing to visit every member of the church who is 60 and above, and those known to have pre-existing conditions of vulnerability; and ensure that they are registered for the vaccine.
- Let each elderly person identify for the volunteers, other elderly people in the neighbourhood who may not be reached because they do not have such volunteers; and ensure that every aged person in the neighbouring community is registered, regardless of their denomination or religious affiliation.
- Let the volunteers develop a database of the people so registered – name, contact details and ID number, so that the church can keep track of them and how they respond to the vaccine; and can liaise with health systems should there be any adverse effects.
“We request that this drive should be aggressively pursued until Pentecost Sunday, on 23 May; when, hopefully, we shall have reached all those in need of our special attention,” said Mpumlwana. Member churches and religious organisations would need to submit the records of those visited and registered to their church headquarters each week for escalation to the SACC, which would ensure that they get appropriate attention from the Health Authorities.
“The particular reason why we need this record is to be sure to attend to any challenges that may result in the performance of the vaccine. It is our hope that the contents of this message may reach as many congregations as possible,” he concluded.
SACC Communications Consultant
South African Council of Churches
Tel: 084 074 1285 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org