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Jakarta Post

Indonesian churches call for online worship, sermons amid concerns over COVID-19

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, March 18, 2020   /   04:39 pm
Indonesian churches call for online worship, sermons amid concerns over COVID-19 Worshippers wearing face masks, amid concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, attend a Sunday service at the Yeouido Full Gospel Church in Seoul on March 8. (AFP/Ed JONES)

In an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) has developed online services to help its followers worship at home.

PGI chairman Gomar Gultom said the measure was taken after President Joko "Jokowi' Widodo asked people to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Sunday.

"We support the President's instruction to limit activities in public places, including in churches," Gomar said as quoted by the PGI official website, pgi.or.id.

"Since yesterday, I've distributed letters of advice to our members, urging them to reduce unnecessary travel and meetings. I have also suggested that they consider online fellowship as an alternative by using an e-church," Gomar said.

He explained that several churches had implemented e-church procedures, such as GKI Pondok Indah and JPCC. Both churches have canceled services but they provide online sermons through radio and video streaming.

"We don't have many churches that are ready [for e-church] because of limited infrastructure, but we'll be more prepared in the future so members can worship from home," he said.

He urged churches that still provide services to prepare hand sanitizers for their members and to check visitor temperatures before entering. He also advised them to clean public spaces with disinfectant prior to services.

West Java Synod Assembly Workers' Board of the Indonesian Christian Church (BPMSW GKI) has adopted a similar approach by advising all churches to perform online Sunday services on March 22 and 29.

BPMSW GKI general secretary Cordelia Gunawan said the board would temporarily halt clergy rotations.

Cordelia asked pastors to reduce out-of-town services and limit church activities.

"We advise [all churches] to cancel all activities besides Sunday services, weddings and funerals," he said.

He also advised all members to avoid physical contact to prevent COVID-19 infection. (nal)