Worshippers stay connected with online services
From professionals and politicians to stay-at-home moms and expats living abroad, thousands of people used prayer on Sunday to cut the distance between them as they united over a pandemic that has spread panic across the world.
South Africans across the globe were asked to pray between noon and 1pm on Sunday from the safety of their homes.
Others attended church virtually as services were streamed across the various social media platforms after a ban by President Cyril Ramaphosa on gatherings of 100 people or more.
For some, the virtual church service was a novel experience.
Former MP Vytjie Mentor said it was her first time to stream a sermon yet it felt as powerful as had she been sitting in church.
“Church really felt good online. All aspects were present and palpable.
“Worship, communion, offering; it was very easy to offer online,” she said.
“God is working wonders, something big and positive is going to manifest after this pandemic.
“I thank the church leadership for promptly getting church online so that we are not found confused and without a spiritual base during these difficult times.”
Mentor said at noon she had prayed for her Cape Town community to remain close-knit and connected during the pandemic.
Former Bay businesswoman Carmel Thormeyer, who now lives in Germany, a country also riddled with Covid-19 infections, said most people had been forced to settle with “second best” in light of the crisis.
A staunch Catholic, she said not receiving communion had been the toughest part.
“I joined the 12pm prayer by saying the rosary because I believe together our prayers will be answered quicker,” Thormeyer said.
Pastor at Father’s House Church in North End, Cherise Swanepoel, said their service streamed on Sunday had been pre-recorded earlier in the week with a live studio audience of 60 people.
At least 7,000 people tuned in to watch.
“Today [Sunday] no-one was at church, except for staff and apprentices to live-stream the conversation before the recorded service was streamed.
“We had 7,100 views.”
Swanepoel said families sent videos and photos of their children singing in their lounges to worship songs.
“It was an awesome response. We had a lot of the team responding and engaging with people as they joined in. That seemed to work great.”
Entrepreneur Nicolette Els said the Sionsrand NG Kerk she belonged to put a church pack together that was preloaded via Facebook or could be manually picked up at church on Friday to then be used from the comfort of her own home.
“It was not quite the same but effective nevertheless,” Els said.
Mother of two Lyndall Sa Joe-Derrocks said she had watched sermons online before, but this time felt different knowing that this may be the only way of gathering for a while.
“Church forms a major part of our lifestyle as a family, so staying connected to our spiritual family will be key during this trying time,” she said.
“It’s important that the church or the believers actively shine their light and spread hope and life in a season of doom and gloom.”
Her family knelt down in prayer at noon.
Small business owner Linda Holmes participated in a group prayer at noon with her sister in Johannesburg and a friend in Jeffreys Bay.
They communicated via WhatsApp video caller.
“I believe with all my heart and soul in the power of prayer,” she said.