The leadership of the three church bodies in the Kingdom of eSwatini - the Eswatini Conference of Churches, League of African Churches and the Council of Swaziland Churches - are concerned about the implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the lives of emaSwati. Following the statement issued on the 17th of March 2020 by the Right Hon. Prime Minister of eSwatini on measures taken by the government, the church bodies note;
1. That the church is deeply concerned about the continuous spread of the Coronavirus in the world and the case that has been confirmed in eSwatini. The rate at which this pandemic is spreading and the high mortality rates reported worldwide have created fear and uncertainty in the world and to the people of eSwatini.
2. That the government of eSwatini has taken drastic and necessary measures to protect the lives of emaSwati from the effects of this pandemic. As much as these measures sound uncomfortable, we believe that they should be adhered to.
3. That the Pandemic has a devastating effect on the economy, social life of emaSwati, and the church community. For the church it comes during the time of Lent where the church is speaking about the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, leading to His death and resurrection. This is a time when Christians through out the world gather in different types of services, conferences, camps and pilgrimages to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The three church bodies therefore encourage the church in eSwatini and the nation at large to be vigilant during this time by doing the following:
1. Suspend all church services, conferences and camps that will be attended more than 50 people. These include the Good Friday and Easter services held in different parts of the country.
2. Suspend night vigils prior to funerals and limit the time spent in funeral services.
3. Encourage churches to hold services in local congregations, cell groups, and to have family services and prayers to avoid travelling and big gatherings.
4. All churches and Christians are requested to dedicate the Sunday of the 22nd of March 2020 to pray for the end of this pandemic in their services/gatherings of less than 50 people.
5. Explore the usage of technology to broadcast services through social media.
6. Church bodies to request the government assists churches to access the local media where sermons and services could be broadcasted on Sundays and during the Good Friday and Easter Weekend so that brethren could still celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus from their homes.
7. Requests the government of Eswatini to do everything possible to strengthen screening of all people passing through the country's border gates, airports and informal crossings.
8. The church also encourages the government to prioritize the immunization of the elderly and children against flu as we approach the winter season.
9. Government is also urged to adhere to international standards on infection prevention and control (IPC).
10. Churches to adhere to World Health Organisation prevention guidelines by doing the following:
a. Suspend physical contact with one another like the shaking of hands and hugging, instead to use other non-touch methods of greeting.
b. A void touching people when praying for them, instead stretch your hands towards them.
c. Encourage congregants who are ill to remain at home until they recover to protect themselves and other members of the church.
d. Provide sanitizers at the entrance of church buildings.
e. Keep the church environment clean and safe by disinfecting all high touch surfaces regularly and ensuring proper ventilation.
f. Teach members of the church to also keep their homes clean and to adhere to instruction from Ministry of Health Officials, like regular washing of hands with soap and running water, seeking medical attention whenever they experience flu like symptoms, cough or high temperature or call the emergency medical services tall free line 977.
The church continues to point the nation to the cross of Jesus Christ where our help and healing come from. We ask the nation and all Christians in particular to pray for God's intervention and guidance during this time. We do this believing that nothing is impossible with God while at the same time, through the knowledge and wisdom He has given to us, taking all precautionary measures to protect ourselves by protecting others. We also believe that God will be true to His word that His plans for us are not to destroy us but to prosper us and that His Son came for that we have life in abundance.
Bishop Stephen Masilela
Eswatini Conference of Churches
Bishop Somson Hlajwayo
League of African Churches
Ven. Bhekindlela Magongo
Council of Swaziland Churches