The City of Churches' churches go into lockdown

Updates from SA churches

The South Australian Government has today announced a six-day “circuit breaker” lockdown across the state from midnight.

The lockdown announcements came as Adelaide churches were scrambling to decide whether to move activities online, in light of the growing COVID outbreak in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

All non-essential activities are not permitted across South Australia, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for seven specific reasons (including one trip per day per household for shopping, “organised end of life visits” and “an emergency situation”). SA residents are not allowed to leave their homes for exercise.

Before the lockdown announcement was made today, some churches had already determined to suspend face-to-face activities. Influencers Church in Adelaide’s CBD announced their move online from this Sunday, in an Instagram video yesterday.

Trinity Network – which has 11 churches throughout Adelaide and South Australia – posted on Facebook today that it is still finalising plans to change church meetings, in light of the new restrictions.

“We’ve always known this would be a possibility, and so have been planning for it,” the church posted, while encouraging its members to trust in “sovereign and loving God”.

Mark Zerna is associate pastor of Elizabeth Church of Christ, located near COVID hotspots Elizabeth City Centre shopping precinct, and the large Aquadome swimming centre.

Zerna said their congregation has been told to expect at least two weeks without face-to-face services.

While it has been meeting physically, the church also has been livestreaming since the first COVID outbreak earlier this year.

“We found there were people connecting with our online service who weren’t connecting with church, people were fearful of COVID and still weren’t coming to church even though all the restrictions were down,” Zerna said. “It’s been blessing those who are really sick and can’t get to church. So we kept it going.”

This Sunday, the online service will be more stripped back. “We’ll try to keep the live service going, but it might just be the pastor preaching and sharing … Obviously, we’re not going to have musicians coming into the church to be recorded like we could during the first COVID outbreak, as long as we didn’t have more than ten people.”

Meanwhile, Edge Church – which has campuses in Findon in Adelaide’s west and Reynella, in the southern suburbs – remains unaffected by the new restrictions, as it has continued to meet online since early this year.

Moving online is more difficult for smaller churches with ageing congregations, such as Woodville Uniting in north-western Adelaide (in the same suburb as a pizza bar that has been identified as a high-risk location).

“We’ll just have to wait and see.” – Ruth Johns.

In one of the few Adelaide church offices still attended when Eternity called today, church treasurer Ruth Johns, was preparing to bank church finances while she still had the chance.

Johns noted their church had already decided to suspend services for the next two Sundays, as well as other church activities, after a directive from the Uniting Church’s Synod of South Australia.

As some members of their 90-member congregation do not have email, this required making phone calls to notify them of the change.

While obviously the church will not be able to meet in person this Sunday, Johns hoped it would not be long before they could do so again for the sake of those members who also don’t access their video services. However, as for all South Australians, there is no knowing what will happen after this six-day lockdown ends.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Johns.