St Engenas Zion Christian Church resumes first Easter mass service since Covid pandemic
For the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak of 2020, thousands of St Engenas Zion Christian Church members attended the Easter weekend mass gathering at the church’s Moria headquarters outside Polokwane in Limpopo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was among dignitaries who attended the Easter service gathering of St Engenas Zion Christian Church.
We thank His Grace Bishop Lekganyane for hosting us at the St Engenas Zion Christian Church in the Holy City of Moria for this year’s Easter conference. It felt really good to be back here after a long hiatus brought on by the pandemic. #ANCinChurch pic.twitter.com/IUsHSFEdgo
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) April 9, 2023
Pilgrims drove from all four corners of South Africa, and from neighbouring countries such as Botswana.
Ramaphosa, invited as president of the ANC, used his short address to thank Bishop Joseph Lekganyane and the pilgrims for agreeing when the government asked churches not to conduct mass gatherings in 2020 to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
The last mass gathering was in 2019.
The St Engenas Zion Christian Church and the nearby Zion Christian Church (ZCC) are two different churches, situated adjacent to each other at Bone village, Zion City Moria. These churches have some of South Africa’s biggest followings and memberships.
The Easter service was held under Covid-19 guideline conditions. Pilgrims, senior government and ANC officials were asked to wear masks and produce Covid-19 vaccination certificates to avoid the spread of the virus.
The nearby ZCC has not yet resumed mass services.
Ramaphosa said the decision taken by various churches in the country not to engage in mass meetings in 2020 enabled the country to navigate its way through the Covid pandemic.
“So today to be here to watch this very spectacular worshiping moment, it’s really touching for us and it was a moment to come and pay homage, to pray with them and to receive the blessings of the church and of the Bishop,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa was pleased that church members were still observing Covid protocols. “We are a very deeply religious nation and this today was a clear representation,” he said, adding “they told me they are not even half of the worshippers who come here so they are still opening up” so “what we were also grateful about is that they still observing Covid protocols, of Covid-period wearing of masks and cleansing of hands”.
Message of hope and humbleness
Bishop Lekganyane delivered a message of hope, humbleness and forgiveness. He called for unity among the people. The bishop also called on people to stop drug abuse, urging quitters not to fall back into the habit.
“I also thank the Bishop for his message of usage on drugs, particularly to young people,” said Ramaphosa.
Some who spoke to DM on condition of anonymity expressed their happiness that mass gatherings have at last resumed after three years. However, street vendors stationed on the R71 say that business was not as it used to be, as many pilgrims did not make it to Moria this time around as the ZCC had not yet resumed mass services.
The two churches are situated adjacent to each other.
Places of pilgrimage
Before the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak, both churches were a place of pilgrimages for millions who used to attend Easter church services.
The St Engenas Zion Christian Church has a symbol of a dove on its badge, while Zion Christian Church has a star.
Security was tight in and outside Moria in Limpopo. Several police units were deployed outside. Traffic officers, fire fighters and ambulance services were deployed for all major roads leading to Moria.
Daily Maverick’s correspondent was not permitted to enter the headquarters to photograph the event, but proceedings were broadcast outside the venue via loudspeakers. DM