Churches in Grand Cayman have been finding innovative and contemporary ways to engage their congregations during the Covid 19, Government enforced lockdown, with many pastors turning to technology to get their message across.
Parishioners remain hopeful however that Church proceedings will be allowed in the community again soon.
Relaxing of the Government imposed 24 hour curfew which ran from Wednesday 25th March to Saturday 28th March in addition to supermarkets re-opening with special hours over the weekend, had given many in Grand Cayman a glimmer of hope regarding faith based gatherings and the potential for fellowship and worship at Churches around the Island.
However, during the last Government press-briefing - held on Friday, 27th March, the Cayman Islands Premier, the Honorable Alden McLaughlin pointed out that due to the current guidelines regarding gatherings being kept to a minimum of two persons, this would not be possible.
He instead, encouraged churches to pursue fellowship using online mediums:
“Many of churches have been gathering online. It just means that they can’t gather together in a physical building or room for the physical purpose of worship,” noted the Premier.
Mr. McLaughlin also ruled out a National Day of Prayer in the usuals sense due to the restrictions on gatherings. However, he added that such prayer services could be held over the radio, on television or otherwise.
In response to a question by Caymanian Times’ Publisher and Editor. Mr. Ralph Lewis, Health Minister, the Honorable Dwayne Seymour indicated that he would be happy to invite a pastor to the press briefings if the Premier would allow him to do so.
“So far I have been doing the prayers and I haven’t run out of prayers but I think we could take someone well trained to come up and give the nation some calm”.
Online there has been an outpouring of faith based initiatives and the Caymanian Times managed to catch up with Pastor Felix Manzanares of Journey Ministries Cayman, who has been using platforms such as zoom (a remote conferencing services company, which combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration), as well as Facebook to reach persons in the community.
Mr. Manzanares explained that the the Church has a unique ability to thrive in challenging times.
“I love what I see happening in the body of Christ because traditionally there has been a focus on the buildings but now we are building the Church instead. We are really understanding what means to love our neighbor and things like spending time with family have become a priority,” he noted.
The Minister added that the Church has to be a part of the solution at this time.
“It is important for us to not just show what we are against as people of God but also what we are for and it that spirit it is important to honor and partner with the government in prayer and in practice.
“This crisis has challenged the ministry and leaders everywhere to be innovative and tap into technology. It is a bright time for the Church to be inclusive and build that love and connection with people and really be shepherds.”
Journey Ministries has been building an online presence for four years and had already been having online worship during that time. The Church is currently hosting 12 nights of prayer online from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, using Zoom from their Facebook page “I Am Online Gathering”.
“We’ve always used this forum. In fact, a recent conference that was scheduled and had to be cancelled was held online. We managed to still have the workshop, people paid and the speaker was able to bless the congregation,” noted Pastor Manzanares.
Another Pastor who is using the wonder of modern technology is Pastor Alston Ebanks of the Church of God, who has been delivering messages via Facebook Live, in addition to producing audio-visual faith based content to uplift the community.
His most recent piece has had a huge impact, reaching many people, who have been sharing it on WhatsApp and Facebook for inspiration.
The Cayman Islands have always had a strong Christian tradition and this time of crisis has been bringing out a renewed ardency among believers.
Residents are encouraged to pay attention to the government’s press briefings for information regarding opening times for churches going forward.