Worshippers in Singapore welcome Good Friday service after a difficult year

Worshippers attending Good Friday services at Grace Assembly of God Church, on April 2, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Identified as a close contact of a church member who tested positive for Covid-19, Mr Kenneth Lek was quarantined in February last year.

During the two weeks at home, the 52-year-old investment manager was touched by the kindness of his neighbours and fellow church members, who dropped by to leave meals for him and his family.

Mr Lek, a member at the Grace Assembly of God church, was one of many worshippers who attended on-site Good Friday services across Singapore after months of virtual and hybrid religious activity due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Lek said the Good Friday service was a special moment to share with other church members and to reflect on his experience in overcoming a difficult year.

"Although we attend Good Friday services every year, it was made more memorable this time because we truly appreciate how fortunate we are and how we should not take things for granted in our lives," he said.

Last year's Holy Week services were held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, services were conducted on-site with a cap on the number of attendees and stringent measures in place to prevent the spread of infection.

Attendees who spoke to The Straits Times said the services were conducted smoothly with socially-distanced seating arrangements, zoning and staggered timings to prevent mingling between the congregants.

Mr Lek, who has been attending on-site services regularly since restrictions were eased in October last year, said he was happy with the measures put in place by the church to prevent the spread of infection.

"Precautions like temperature screenings and socially-distanced seating arrangements have become commonplace since the pandemic started, so we are used to these measures. I felt safer attending the service than if I were to go to a mall or restaurant," he said.

A man is seen disinfecting seats after the conclusion of Good Friday services at Grace Assembly of God Church, on April 2, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Undergraduate student Ms Ng Xiang Rong, 23, a member of City Harvest Church, recalled being elated when she reunited with her peers for physical services after a long wait.

"This Easter, we are planning to hold watch parties in groups of eight. I am very thankful that the restrictions have eased somewhat, but I am reminded not to take it for granted and to treasure every opportunity to gather," she said.

When church services were disrupted early last year, organisational development practitioner Stephanie Lau, 49, who is Catholic, missed the time she would spend with friends from the church on weekends.

"When they announced the resumption of services, I remembered that I managed to book a physical Mass in October and I was very excited about it.

"It was most memorable and it felt so good to be back in church again," she said.

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