S'pore churches do live streaming, suspend mass gathering as coronavirus cases increase

Some churches, however, have continued with on-site services as usual.

Julia Yeo| February 17, 03:56 PM

In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, churches across Singapore have taken precautionary measures since this past weekend.

City Harvest Church, Catholic archdiocese suspends on-site services

The outbreak of Covid-19 at two Grace Assembly of God church branches have prompted a number of places of worship across Singapore to suspend on-site services, including the Catholic archdiocese and City Harvest Church (CHC).

Catholic archbishop William Goh announced in a pastoral letter on Feb. 14 that masses and large gatherings were to be suspended indefinitely.

Instead, Catholic masses were made available online, with over 86,000 views for their broadcast on Sunday on YouTube.

After the first weekend of the suspension of on-site services, Goh wrote:

"Too often we have taken the Mass for granted, until we are deprived of it.

But again, we thank God that through the use of technology, we can transmit the Mass into the homes of our people."

CHC also announced the suspension of its on-site services as a precaution.

Prior to this Covid-19 outbreak, CHC also has existing online live streaming, which continued as per normal this past weekend.

The megachurch has a sizeable attendance.

According to The Straits Times, CHC has a congregation of about 16,000.

"Thank you for logging in to worship together with us online. We are in a very challenging time combating this Covid-19," CHC pastor Bobby Chaw said during the stream, as he led the online congregation into prayer for healthcare professionals at the front line.

Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) also released a statement on Feb. 15 that they would be suspending their on-site services for the weekend, even as their live streaming would go on as per normal.

"We would like to assure everyone that these measures have been implemented not out of fear, but a desire to be socially responsible," the statement read.

Heart Of God Church announced the decentralisation of its services over the next three weekends, starting from Feb. 22.

"We will not be closing church or cancelling/ suspending services," the church's notice read.

"Instead, we will be having small-group gatherings to watch online services as we usually do during the annual Chinese New Year break. Our next church service will be held on 14/15 March."

MOH advises for worship services to continue with appropriate precautionary measures

Some churches, however, continued with on-site services, such as New Creation Church (NCC).

NCC wrote on their website that they have implemented measures such as temperature and health checks, encouraging those unwell to stay at home.

On Feb. 14, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Grace Fu met with church leaders to update them on the Covid-19 situation.

They noted that many churches have already instituted measures to protect their congregation, including advisories to members, temperature screening, reducing mingling, as well as suspending or deferring non-essential programmes.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) advised church leaders to continue holding worship services with "appropriate precautionary measures", such as cleaning of commonly used areas, minimising sharing of common items where possible, and maintaining good ventilation of event venues.

Top image via Andrew Koay, Wikipedia Commons