Bahamian govt reopens churches, but Anglicans will stay home for now

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The government of the Bahamas has permitted churches to reopen under strict social distancing guidelines as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down in the islands. However, the Anglican church has decided to keep their church closed for the time being until the pandemic passes.

On 22 May 2020 the government of Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said New Providence churches would be allowed to hold drive-up services.  Worshippers must remain in their cars; vehicles must park three feet apart; offerings may only be collected at one central point with no passing of hte plate; and communion may not be given to worshippers. Those at high risk are not to attend worship services, the government said. Churches on the Family Islands may resume worship also, but must maintain social distance standards.

In a 22 May 2020 pastoral letter to the Diocese of the Bahamas and Turk & Caicos Islands, the Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd (pictured) said he “rejoiced at this news because we have been languishing in our present circumstances of not being able to gather.”

However, the diocese would take a wait and see approach. “[I]t is wise to proceed with caution and to ensure that each step forward is firmly planned,” he wrote. 

The diocese was preparing a reopening protocol that was expected to be released shortly. “Therefore … our parishes will not resume any gatherings at this time,” he said, but online services would continue to be offered.

He noted the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands had permitted churches to reopen on 17 May 2020, with no more than ten persons attending a service. “Our TCI Anglican family should continue to operate in accordance with what the jurisdiction allows.”

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nassau Patrick Pinder said the archdiocese needed time to assess the situation and to work out how best to “resume liturgical life given the specific conditions stipulated.”As of 23 May 2020 the Bahamian Health Ministry reported 110 cases and 10 deaths from the Coronavirus.