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Worshipers during Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church on Harris Promenade in San Fernando yesterday. Churches were able to resume activity under strict COVID-19 regulations following months of closure.

As many worshippers attended their first service yesterday since the COVID-19 restriction was lifted, a Presbyterian minister prayed that there would be no other further lockdowns at places of worship.

Rev Letra Jacob, of the Susumachar Presbyterian Church in San Fernando, said the lockdown was challenging and they were happy to return to the church to worship.

“We are really very happy that we are able to come back out for worship, following, of course, all the protocols and the guidelines given to us,” Jacob said.

“And we really hope that as we come back out today that we will not have any more lockdowns because we really miss being in the sentry and it is such a wonderful feeling being back among the people. So we look forward to continued worship in this way.”

She said their elderly members would have been the most affected, as accessing virtual worship would have been challenging for them.

“I think it was really difficult for many of them. Susumachar Presbyterian Church, and by extension the pastoral region, would be an ageing community and so for the older members, the senior citizens of our congregation, it would have been very difficult. Many of them were not able to join the virtual online worship because of their lack of knowledge and they would need the assistance of maybe someone in the home, not always getting that.”

She added, “We were not able to touch them through the church in a meaningful way all the time, so hence the reason we are so very pleased that churches are opened up and places of worship, that we are able to come out and worship in a physical way.”

Her message to the congregation was one of hope and caring.

“We are living in very difficult times. The message today would have been to extend a hand of charity to those in need. A message of being a voice of encouragement, a message of being a voice of hope to a world that you know is so bombarded by unemployment. A world that is so bombarded by crime and so it is a message really this morning, a message of hope.”

The churches were reopened on the condition that they have one-hour services and 50 per cent capacity. However, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church in San Fernando, there was less than a 50 per cent turn-out.

Addressing the congregation, Father Jayson Grell FMI lamented that in these times people need to support each other.

“These are not normal times and these are times where we hold the hands of each other. We need one another because these are not normal times. Hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, COVID-19 all kind problems.”

The worshippers sat far apart from each other in adherence to COVID-19 protocols.