COVID concerns prompts cancellation of Communion services this weekend in the Solomon Islands

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The primate of the Anglican Church in Melanesia, the Most Rev. Leonard Dawea, has asked Anglican churches in the Solomon Islands to be hold Morning Prayer services only this weekend in light of government warnings of a COVID-19 surge. The 21 January 2022 statement, printed below, states the church will follow the counsel of the government to help stop the spread of the virus. Churches may gather for worship, but without Holy Communion and with social distancing and masking rules in place. The WHO reports that “from 3 January 2020 to 5:55pm CET, 21 January 2022, there have been 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 0 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 14 January 2022, a total of 264,085 vaccine doses have been administered.” The population of the Solomon Islands is approximately 700,000.

STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE ARCHBISHOP

FOLLOWING the announcement by the Prime minister of the high possibility of widespread transmission of Covid 19 in Honiara and the uncertainty over the sources of the current positive cases, I am taking the unprecedented but necessary step to advise all parishes within the Diocese of Central Melanesia that all Holy Eucharist services for this weekend are hereby suspended until further notice. This should apply to all dioceses as well, but the Diocesan Bishops will decide when to enforce it as appropriate in their respective dioceses.

Please note that this course of action IS in no way undermines nor diminishes our faith in God expressed through our communal gathering around the Lord’s table. Instead it is a demonstration of our faith in action, displaying the wisdom and knowledge God has endowed upon us as individuals and on those he has gifted with the care of our physical health.

Parishes may wish to proceed with normal morning prayers but with strict observance of safe health practices issued by our health and relevant authorities. We will understand if parishes may decide to suspend all forms of public worship altogether and instead encourage family worship in our homes.

I am issuing this statement subject to any further guidelines that may be issued by the Prime minister’s office later this afternoon or from time to time.

Please take care of yourselves and our families at this very uncertain and highly risky environment. But most importantly, continue to seek God’s protection over our country and its people.