Catholic, Anglican churches to remain closed

Right Reverend Datuk Danald Jute

KUCHING: All Anglican churches and most Catholic churches in the state will continue to remain closed although the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) has given the green light to hold prayer sessions with a maximum attendance of 50 persons per session effective Saturday (July 24).

Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei, Right Reverend Datuk Danald Jute said their churches and chapels statewide shall remain closed until further notice.

“We are aware that this decision might not be what some of us are expecting, knowing how much you have been missing church. We wish to assure you that our decision is arrived at out of our love and care for you.

“The number of new Covid-19 infections is now at its highest figures — nationally and at the state level. What is more alarming is the spike in number of cases involving the more aggressive and infectious Delta variant. Let us continue to do our part to curb the spread of the virus.

“This letter is not about stopping us being church, it is about us reimagining how we can continue to be church for this season,” he said in a letter to the church members dated July 23.

Danald, therefore, called upon church members to continue to join the online worship services being screened from the respective parishes.

On another note, he said whether vaccinated or not, people must continue to wear face masks when in public places and work graciously together to care for one another, especially the poor and needy.

“Let us continue to do our part to curb the spread of the virus. Some of us have been blessed to receive the vaccines, while others are still patiently waiting for their turn.

“Please also avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places. If you must go out, do always keep a safe distance from others. Remember that some people without symptoms might spread the virus. Wash your hands often, and monitor your health daily,” he said.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuching Most Reverend Simon Poh said the Catholic churches too have decided not to rush into opening its doors.

“On Friday evening, I was in discussion with my respective priests and most of our churches will not be opening in view of the uncertainty of the Covid-19 Delta variant that is now detected in Sarawak. 

“We will use this week to update our standard operating procedures (SOPs) and do in house revision and training for our admission screening, ushering, liturgical worship, SOP and sanitising service teams,” he said.

He pointed out that ultimately, the health and safety of the people was a priority which would also contribute to the general safety for all the people of Sarawak.

“I exhort on all Christians and people of goodwill to respond in kindness and generosity. Together we can make a difference for those in need.

“As we have just celebrated Sarawak Day, let our unity and harmony witness who we are as people of Sarawak.

“May God bless, protect and deliver us from this pandemic,” said Poh.