Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and Peace to you with the sincere wish and trust that you are keeping well and safe in these rather challenging times.
As a Pentecostal people living in the post-Pentecost Season, we continue to affirm the presence of God with us through these constantly evolving times. Indeed, like those first disciples who discovered in Mark’s Gospel 4: 35-41, Jesus does care and will calm this storm that has brought with it so much disease and death. We renew our hope in Jesus who is the balm of Gilead and trust in His healing power even as we plead: “Come Holy Spirit and Heal your people.”
As we write this communiqué, we are aware of the many thousands throughout our Connexion who have been affected and infected with COVID-19; many who have lost loved ones and those who are currently hospitalised and in ICU. As a church, we remain in prayer for each and every person and offer our condolences to families who are mourning the death of loved ones.
The third wave is upon us in Southern Africa, driven by the new devastating Delta variant which is recognised by scientists as highly transmissible and contagious. As the number of new infections and Covid related deaths continue to soar, our health delivery systems are taking immense strain, buckling and almost at the tipping point. Consequently, all local governments in our Connexion have introduced more stringent regulations to flatten the curve and save lives.
It is therefore incumbent upon us, a people of faith, to ensure that we too contribute to this effort and endeavour to save lives. We commend to each of our Synod Covid Task Teams and Synod Executives, the regulatory frameworks of our respective governments and request that they ensure compliance and the implementation of these mandatory government directives within the contextual frameworks in their countries and regions. We particularly remind Circuits and Societies within South Africa that all meetings and gatherings including worship services are prohibited for the next 14 days. We implore all Societies, Circuits and Synods to act urgently in this regard. The South African Government Gazette issued today, 28 June 2021, makes it a criminal offence to arrange, organise and host any religious gathering (worship, meetings, organisation/cell/house/class meetings) or even to attend any such gathering outside of a Funeral Service.
As a Connexion, our 2021 Diary of events for physical gatherings during this period has been suspended until 31 July 2021, and where possible, all other events are to be held virtually. These include various Connexional Organisational and Unit events. Organisations and Units will issue to their membership, their postponement details.
As the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, we affirm that a vaccine against this dreadful disease is our hope to stem the tide and stop the carnage we tragically witness in its wake on a daily basis. We therefore urge all our members to prayerfully consider presenting themselves to designated vaccination sites for the vaccination rollout drive even as we too join other voices to call upon the Governments in our Connexion to accelerate the vaccination campaign as a matter of urgency.
We continue to pray for each of you, especially those at the frontline, including our Clergy, who offer pastoral care and ministry to God’s people, often at the ultimate cost to themselves and their families.
Please keep safe as you continue to practise non-pharmaceutical protocols in order to protect yourselves and those around you.
We offer the closing prayer in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
“May the God who has raised from death our Lord Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd of the sheep as the result of his sacrificial death, by which the eternal covenant is sealed. May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do His will, and may he through Jesus Christ, do in us what pleases him. And to Christ be the glory for ever and ever.”
Your Fellow Followers in Christ and God’s Mission
Rev N Purity Malinga
Rev Michel W Hansrod