Adapting or Adopting Digitisation: The Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) during Covid-19 Lockdown (2019 to 2022)
Keywords:Covid-19, church, e-church, Facebook, internet, online, social media, radio, technology, television, worship
The Covid-19 pandemic became an eye-opener for the church to reconsider technology due to the lockdown and its impact on the church. From 2019, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic, the global church space and its functions were greatly affected. This forced the church to look at alternatives to ensure that it continued to maintain its sacred space as well as its offering of worship services to all Christian believers. The church needed to find new ground to perform its functions. Telephones, newspapers, radios, as well tape recorders have long been in existence and were already explored by the church, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, the main question was: How does the church enhance its own space, and how does it function in the new era of digital technology? The existence of social media meant that the church had to go digital and enhance its offerings of worship on other network systems rather than the traditional. The internet eased this movement by the church from the traditional way of doing things. This article will focus on how the church in South Africa began to embrace the digital world in enhancing its mission to the larger society, as 4IR was at the same time making inroads in public and private spaces. Popular social media platforms (such as Facebook, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Twitter, WhatsApp, and so forth) were providing much-needed alternatives at a critical point in history—the Covid-19 pandemic. These platforms became the alternative means to ensure that worship services continued, as well as other church gatherings such as synods, councils, retreats and conferences. The spread of Covid-19 afforded the church enough room, time and space to venture into expanding its mission digitally, thereby entering into the world of technology that was new to it.
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