Praise and worship in the time of coronavirus

We are no strangers to tele-evangelists. Many of us have grown up with the sound of sermons punctuating our days. Now more than ever, we need to take our worship online. We asked Capetonians how they are adapting. 

John-Daniel Josephs says the church is still working in the background, and it has put the spotlight on churches and how they operate in terms of the collection of tithes in poorer communities. The environment now in the pandemic has been that people are in extreme challenging positions in their personal lives. Not being able to go to Sunday services has affected people psychologically. The only escape has been hearing a Sunday sermon. People are having fellowship at home now, and interpreting the word of God on their own. There is a much deeper understanding from what I can see. In my view the church must be a beacon of justice, and I don’t feel the church does that. The pandemic has exposed the injustices that have always prevailed in the church itself. Joseph’s has not been partaking in online services but rather fellowship on his own. 

Angie Abrahams says in the first lockdown in March 2020 church went online. “We even had mass via Whatsapp. We could participate in online streaming of any parish too. We had a roster system too, and it worked perfectly for a big community like ours in Mitchells Plain. Currently we are back to mass via whatsapp, or online streaming.  For us Catholics receiving Holy Communion is so important, and that it is sadly missed. We now have a spiritual communion. It has been difficult, but this a necessary sacrifice for our wellbeing.”

Anthea Bissolat

“The upside of the internet is that we can watch all the church services from the Vatican to other parishes here in Cape Town. It really is not the same, you don’t get that feeling of community. There is strength in numbers, and sitting next to people holding hands and saying the Our Father is really missed. We still try to participate. I miss going to church, seeing the priests and the routine of a Sunday morning. We had a brief interlude where we went to a Sunday evening service. It was terrible, there were only four people in church. You are not allowed to sing or talk to anyone. This time has taught us to be spiritual alone. Your religious journey is between you and God, as it always should have been. But it is also because the sense of community is vital for society. I mean the people who go for sharing love and cementing the sense of family. Not those who just want to show off their new hats and outfits.” 

Princhall Williams is a New Apolostic church (NAC) member. He says the services moved online the Sunday since the Lockdown began in March 2020. Initially it was a dream come true as he had already been easing out of physical attendance prior to the lockdown. “As time went on though I started to miss the congregating and fellowship. The NAC is synonymous with music and I miss being in the choir too. It was one of the last reasons why I still attended the services. When we could go back in October I only went twice. The services were still being streamed. I attended because of communion. Communion is a physical thing, so it’s not a safe practice anymore. I do miss the fellowship and most of my friends are from church.”

Lance-Selae August says certain things at church make up their encounter with God. The online environment cannot replace that. “The NAC adapted so well with the Covid-19 worship circumstances. It is professionally handled with proper equipment, and content partnering with radio stations. You can listen to the service via your phone, and it is streamed almost everywhere. They have done their best to replicate the in-person worship. You feel like you are sitting in church in the virtual setting. We were all so excited to get back to church but I didn’t feel safe to do so. I have become dependent on this virtual form of worship. It has been a sufficient substitute. It is an adaptation of the church’s teaching where we cling to our faith”.