by Hileni Nembwaya
THE Covid-19 pandemic has severely hampered church donations, resulting in congregations being cash-strapped.
Church attendance has rapidly decreased due to the fear of contracting the virus and health regulations prohibiting large public gatherings.
Many smaller congregations especially are said to be hard hit.
Reverend Thomas Uushona, the information coordinator of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin), says many Elcin congregations countrywide are currently struggling financially.
“The pastors are complaining they are not doing well financially, and only receive offerings during gatherings such as weddings and burials.
“Many congregation members are also struggling to pay their tithes or offerings, because they have lost their sources of income due to Covid-19. Times are really hard for many people out there, and the situation does not look good at all.
Churches are suffering the most because they can no longer afford to pay their employees’ salaries or to maintain church buildings,” Uushona says.|
He says although offerings do not contribute much to the churches’ finances, the little it did contribute made a difference in sustaining congregations.
Pastors are encouraging church members to continue paying their membership fees, despite not attending church services, he says.
“Many pastors are complaining they are no longer receiving salaries, because church members are not paying their tithes, and some of them are really finding it difficult to survive,” he says.
Pastor Johann Boshoff of the Christian Revival Church at Ongwediva says the current third wave of Covid-19 is putting a huge strain on churches.
“We are doing better financially, but the third wave will affect us negatively. People have priorities and some tend to put their church tithes last on that list.
“Many families are calling us to assist them financially, because they have lost their jobs. We try to assist them as much as we can. Times are hard for everyone, and we are all just trying to navigate through the storm,” he says.
Boshoff says church attendance has slowed down drastically over the past months.
“We used to conduct door-to-door church services, but with the ban on public gatherings we are planning to conduct prayer services via online platforms just to make sure we reach all our members. Financially, I believe we are blessed, and God will surely see us through these hard times. God saw the pandemic coming, and I’m sure He will save us,” he says.