Hope City Going Forward: An Announcement from the Elders
Earlier this week President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that religious communities would be able to resume in-person worship services during level 3 of the national lockdown, provided those services are under 50 people and several other strict regulations are observed. As a church we are encouraged and grateful that the President takes the concerns of the religious communities of South Africa into account. We praise God for the freedom of religion we experience in this country. We’re also very thankful for the implicit acknowledgement that pastors provide an essential service to our community during this time. In times of growing fear and anxiety, there was much to be thankful for in the words of our President.
What this declaration has done is to place the ball in the court of religious leaders to decide whether or not to return to in-person worship services with the advent of level 3. In response to this news our elders met, prayed, and discussed potential ways forward for Hope City. We spoke to several congregation members before our meeting to gauge the general sense of our people. Alongside this we consulted medical professionals and several other churches, with whom we have relationship, to see their responses to this announcement. Through this we were able to come to unanimous agreement about the initial way forward. The decision we came to flows out of a commitment to honour God, build up his people, and love our neighbours as ourselves.
At this time our elders believe that the wisest course of action is to delay the opening of our in-person services for another month and then review the situation. We want to try and remain as flexible as possible – because situations tend to change very quickly during this pandemic – but we also want to allow ourselves ample time to be able to ensure that when we finally do come back together we’re able to do it in as wise and as safe a way possible. For the month of June we will continue with our online services and community groups.
We understand that this is difficult for some to hear. To be honest we ourselves are constantly heartbroken that we cannot meet in person with our church family. We are hopeful however, that even if you’re not entirely in agreement with our assessment of the situation you will help us work towards unity with a level of understanding that we are attempting to do the very best we can with the data available to us. We are confident that God will honour our attempts to love him, build his church, and love our neighbour, as imperfect as they may be. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you might have.
There are challenges ahead of us and so we need to continually humble ourselves in prayer before our sovereign God.
The Hope City Elders
(Philip Elliott, Wesley Marshall, Stephen Murray, & Trevor Skead)