In a pastoral letter in March, the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) General Secretary Rev. Kudzani Ndebele and President Rev Sikhalo Cele expressed unequivocal support for the life-saving measures introduced by governments which care for their welfare. They acknowledged that even though the country lockdowns were difficult for energetic children and young people and had curtailed rights and freedom, priority had to be given to safeguard lives and sustain good health.

This came as Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – all countries in which UCCSA operate except for Botswana – had already recorded cases of the COVID 19 infections in their populations. At the same time, they called on governments to “consider all ways possible to minimise and even eradicate the spread of this deadly pandemic”, voicing their concern about the economic impact of the lockdowns, as these had further affected their ailing economies.

At the same time, they shared their conviction was that “the church’s witness that is expressed through provision of loving, caring service is expected to come alive in a very special way in times like this”, and encouraged their Church “not to allow the circumstances brought about by COVID-19 to define them, but rather, Christians should continue to focus on Christ in ways which their faith and hope in Christ define and strengthen them for the challenges they face.”

Standing in solidarity with the Church and those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their families, they emphasized faith, prayer, perseverance and God’s sovereignty in working all things for eventual good, and encouraged their congregation members to “find ways in which we can continue to bear witness to the love of God for all Creation in the midst of our current debilitating circumstances.”