Council of Swaziland Churches Pastoral Letter on the COVID-19 Pandemic

25th March 2020

Dear Leaders, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who suffered and died to save the world from sin and suffering. As we remember the suffering of Christ and as we meditate upon His sacrificial love for us sinners during this time of lent, we are confronted by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

God's love and intentions for His people are clearly stated in the Gospel of John (10:10) that He wants to give us life as opposed to the devil's intentions whose aim is to kill and destroy. That means as we pray to God during these trying times we are not only praying for our own lives, but we are joining God in bringing life to all His people. The church has a responsibility to protect life and promote the health of all people as we are on the side of the giver of life. As the pandemic spreads to all countries and in our own country, eSwatini, the church should be the first community to stand up and protect lives by making sure that we break the line of transmission of the Coronavirus.

It must be our Christian responsibility to observe and adhere to all precautionary measures given by WHO, the Ministry of Health officials and the government of eSwatini. However, while doing that we must also make sure that things are done in a just manner so that even the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society are taken care of. We are therefore called upon to show God's love by caring for the vulnerable members of our congregations and communities during this time.

Following the pronouncement of the Right Hon. Prime Minister on Tuesday the 24th where he declared a 'partial lockdown', member churches of the CSC are further encouraged to observe the following measures;
1. Although the directive is that only gatherings of less than 20 people will be permitted, we encourage churches to suspend all church services and meetings during the 20 days period.
2. Families be encouraged to hold family services and prayers
3. Encourage members of the church to stay at home and minimize any form of travel during this time, unless it is absolutely necessary.
4. Priests / Pastors should continue providing pastoral care to congregants over the phone and through social media.
5. Churches are also encouraged to share banking details and/or mobile money numbers with their congregants for families to deposit collections that they will be making in their family services.
6. Churches to continue educating members to take the necessary precautions even in their own homes to protect their loved ones from being infected by this virus.

The Council of Swaziland Churches office has taken a decision to allow members of staff to work from home during the 20 days lockdown and we encourage all church offices to do the same. All meetings that were scheduled by the CSC will also be suspended and this includes the Council of Elders meeting which was planned for the 1st of April 2020. Please be advised that new dates will be set once the situation is back to normal.

During these difficult times in the history of the church, we call upon all Christians join in prayers every Sunday at 12:00 noon and every Wednesday at 18:00pm. We are to pray for the following;
1. The stop of the spread of the virus
2. The recovery of those who are already infected
3. Comfort and peace for the families who have already lost their loved ones.
4. Restoration of our economy and the economies of the world
5. Wisdom for all governments and institutions who have to manage the outbreak
6. A break through for scientist trying to find a cure for this disease. May God help us to trust Him even more during this time and may our faith not fail as we confront this deadly pandemic. "Lord I believe, help my unbelief."

Sincerely Yours,
Rev. Zwanini Shabalala
General Secretary

Ven. Bhekindlela Magongo
Chairperson


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