“We do not focus on the limitations but on the opportunities this crisis provides.”
Rev. Antonie Holleman, district superintendent of The Netherlands represents the attitude of many Nazarenes and leaders across the Eurasia Region, as they halt or postpone regular activities in order to protect the vulnerable in their communities from the spread of a new respiratory virus, COVID-19.
The overarching attitude is that Nazarenes quickly innovating new ways of worship and ministry by taking advantage of technology and online connectedness.
Here is a summary of responses or ways Nazarenes are affected.
The following district assemblies have been postponed to help prevent the spread of the virus:
- Central Asia
- British Isles North
- British Isles South
The France District held an abbreviated assembly.
Missionaries and volunteers
Four missionary couples or individuals are outside Eurasia on home assignment, and may be affected in their planned return dates.
One volunteer couple, who had just arrived to Eurasia, returned to their home country when their ministry site closed for the foreseeable future.
Western Mediterranean Field
Portugal—On Friday, ConCafe, a Nazarene coffee shop and church in Lisbon, closed to avoid gathering groups of people where illness could spread. https://www.facebook.com/concafe.portugal/
Spain—Several churches held online worship services on March 15 to serve their congregations at home.
Italy—Church activities across the country are suspended until April 3, the district superintendent Rev. Daniel Fink reported.
“We are doing well, praise the Lord,” Daniel said. “Our churches are continuing all their activities through live streaming and the positive thing is that through social media we are expanding our contacts and witness.”
Eastern Mediterranean Field
Lebanon—The four churches in Beirut, and the Nazarene school, have halted in-person activities. The Nazarene school closed on March 2.
“We are holding online services live on Facebook every Sunday for the four churches,” said the Lebanon district superintendent, Rev. Andrew. “Also, [this week] we will start a daily online live service of worship and prayers. Bands from different churches will take turns to come to our Bouchrieh church to worship live on Facebook.”
The district is organizing local church members into groups, and assigning a leader to minister to each group, calling on people weekly to ensure they are safe, and find out if they need anything.
The district is also using WhatsApp groups to keep Nazarenes connected through short videos of prayers, teaching, and singing.
The district’s hot meal ministry in Beirut, a church-based school for refugee children, and a thrift store are put on hold at this time.
Jordan—Most of the Nazarene churches held online worship services in place of regular services March 15. The Nazarene School also closed, and the graduation ceremony was cancelled.
Secure areas—Nazarene churches in several secure areas have also suspended worship services in response to government guidelines.
“We did not hear of any of our members in all our field who got the coronavirus,” said a Nazarene leader. “We praise God for this.”
Central Europe Field
Poland—Sweet Surrender Coffee shop and church in Krakow suspended its services from March 12 for two weeks. An online service was offered on YouTube.
The two Arabic Nazarene churches in Poland have suspended services for two weeks.
South Asia Field
There are no reported closures of Nazarene churches or administrative offices.
No closures or suspended activities to report at this time.
Northern Europe Field
Germany—District youth and children’s Easter camps have been cancelled. Gelnhausen Church of the Nazarene livestreamed an online-only service Sunday, attracting even more online viewers than typically attend in person, including other Nazarenes from across Germany, and some from other denominations. It will continue to livestream Sunday services through Easter.
United Kingdom—The Dare to Go Conference, scheduled for May 7-9, is cancelled. (https://www.facebook.com/events/330010801211033/) It was planned as a cooperative event between the British Isles North and British Isles South districts.
Some churches across both UK districts held worship services as usual, with extra cleaning of the facilities, and adapted Lord’s supper practices.
March 18 UPDATE: Most UK churches are complying with government mandates to suspend in-person worship and prayer meetings. Some are offering online services. For example, Wednesday, Trinity Perth Church of the Nazarene, Scotland, streamed its evening prayer meeting on Facebook.
The Netherlands—Rev. Antonie Holleman, the district superintendent, reports: “In the country there is no lockdown, but schools, many shops, restaurants, sport facilities, etc., are closed and gatherings of large groups should be avoided.”
- Since last Sunday all worship services were cancelled. Two churches who stream their services continued to do this without an audience. Other churches provided a podcast or had pre-recorded a sermon that was shared on their websites.
- Churches encourage their members to stay connected and help those who need help.
- District Assembly on April 3-4 will be partially cancelled. Through electronic voting the assembly delegates will vote on certain motions and resolutions. The celebration of the assembly will be postponed.
- Children camp is scheduled for the end of May. This is a big event over the Pentecost weekend with more than 300 children. We hope that we will be able to do this. Same with the Summer camp for teenagers in July.
- The churches in the Netherlands are organizing a national day of prayer on Wednesday, March 18, in which the Church of the Nazarene will participate.
“Overall, the atmosphere in the church communities is that this is an unplanned “fast” of church activities and regular worship, that could become a means for God to do a new thing among His people, which could also effect the people in society,” Holleman said.
Nazarene churches are among the congregations asked by the governments of Armenia and Ukraine to suspend in-person worship services.