By Christopher Tobutt
It’s been three months now that church brothers and sisters have been unable to get together. Sure, they have had plenty of chances to participate in livestream online services and similar virtual gatherings, but it just isn’t the same. The new church openings come as Cayman enters Level 2 of the governments control classification, and comes with some restrictions. Chairs and other seating has to be arranged so that people are seated at least six feet from one another, in accord with government guidelines. Less than half the churches opened up on Father’s Day, 21 June, as some are waiting until all precautions are fully rehearsed. It’s great to meet again, but not if it is going to put people into danger, so things were far from ‘back to normal;’ but it was another step towards a normal church life again.
Associate Pastors Pastor Steve Dasilva and Pastor Erica Dasilva from the First Assembly of God church were both glad their church has opened up. “What we are doing is following the regulations they have given us and – we removed most of the seating inside to make everything six feet apart, and we are asking is that families sit together, and individual persons leave three seats between them. We’ve also set up hand sanitizing stations throughout the lobby and we are asking everyone to wear a mask once they are inside the building. Everything is contactless – so the doors are open; we’re not handing out hymnals.”
First Assembly has been very busy reaching out to people during the lockdown: “We’ve assigned about 80 leaders to have about four people per leader; and checking on their physical needs. Many of our leaders have been incredible we’ve had incredible testimonies of leaders paying other people’s rent, and checking in on how they are doing emotionally, and praying with them and encouraging them.”
Christopher Mason, Minister of Elmslie United Church, said: “Today is a good day for us to come back and to worship together. We’re following the guidelines given by the government, and we have maintained our community status by our online services, and we have also been distributing food packages to people and also coupons for shopping. We have also been helping those persons who are unable to pay their bills.”
Pastor Marben Brenes of the Good News Baptist Church said: “The natural church is a family, and a natural family has a home; a place where all can be together and speak and have fellowship, and congregate. For the last three months we have had live streaming services I did from the parsonage in my home.”
At First Baptist Church, quite a large number had managed to gather in the big auditorium despite the restrictions. Pastor Steve Brady said, “Folk have been working really hard to get everything sanitized and ready to go; and in addition today for our first time ever, we have also livestreamed our service which has gone across the island, and also to different parts of the world. Today I spoke about emerging from lockdown, and my message was psalm 121, that faith was not a bus-stop, it was a journey. So if you want to get out of where you are, you’ve got to take a step, and get on the bus.”