South Korea reopens churches as new COVID-19 infections fade

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The South Korean government has relaxed its quarantine restrictions after new infections of the Coronavirus remained under 20 for the past three days. On 20 April 2020 the government announced that 20 cases had been reported to the health ministry that day, while only 8 were reported on the 19th. At its height on 29 Feb 2020 909 new infections were reported. 

The country’s health ministry reports that 10674 have been infected with the virus of whom 236 had died.

Social distancing remains in place until the end of May, but churches, gyms and bars may reopen if they enforce the government’s health guidelines. South Korea’s baseball league has also been given permission to start its season, but its games will only be televised as no spectators will be allowed in the stands.

On 7 April 2020 the Anglican bishop of Seoul, the Rt. Rev. Lee Kyung-ho released a Holy Week pastoral letter stating the diocese’s churches would be closed through the end of April due to the virus. However, the diocese would concentrate on its “50 Days of Joy Movement” marking the season until Pentecost. 

He urged the clergy to use this time to study the Scriptures, pray and copy out the book of Acts in a journal, which they may give to the bishop for his signature and approval.

“The present time is a crisis situation for people all over the world.”  he wrote.

“Perplexity and fatigue are accumulating, and it may be confusing as various views and positions are submitted, but our church wants to take it as an opportunity to deepen and unite into a more Christ-like church. Even in this situation, the pastoral responsibilities and mission of the church continues with new will and passion. Our experience today will be a nourishment that harvests more fruit in the future.”

“The testimony of the resurrection is that our church vividly reveals and shows the presence of the Triune God. In this difficult situation, we pray that the mission of our church will appear like light, and our pastors will act as salt,” wrote Bishop Lee.