Room for More at On-Site Services
In the latest suite of changes in Singapore's safe-distancing measures, God is restoring His House and our worship unto Him in the year of Restoration for His Mandate.
By Edmund Tan Ghim Meng
It’s the first weekend of April 2022. The traffic marshals were kept busy as vehicles thronged the driveway. Meanwhile, a cacophony of excited chatter and boisterous laughter echoed in the lobby as groups of congregants sprawled across the church’s premises, warmly catching up with one another in person under an expectant atmosphere.
It would take a while to get used to the absence of queue poles and the presence of larger crowds. After all, this was the first weekend in Trinity Christian Centre where weekend services resumed in response to the latest round of easing for national COVID-19 safe-distancing measures.
When was the last time you encountered scenes like these?
Although mask-wearing and “Trace Together/Safe-Entry” (the national contact-tracing app) are still required, the latest easing of measures now allows the church to effect several changes (see below), bringing us closer to our pre-pandemic experiences for worship services.
Key things that have changed
Safe distance between seats (in service halls): No longer needed.
Booking seats: Not needed.
Timing of services: All services restored to their original (pre-pandemic) time-slots.
Congregational singing: We can now sing on-site during worship...with masks on!
Restrictions to on-site church services were imposed in Singapore from March 26, 2020. Services at Trinity Christian Centre have since been run in compliance with prevailing national safe management measures. The latest suite of changes to our services was possible due to recent key and decisive shifts in national measures.
Having waited for more than two years for a significant easing of measures and a greater sense of normalcy returning, many expressed hope and anticipation for the latest arrangements. Among the various changes made, the most prominent one is apparently the resumption of congregational singing.
Joshua Tan, from IGNYTE, was one of those who cited this change. When asked what he looked forward to most with this latest suite of changes, he remarked matter-of-factly, “Being able to sing at on-site services now!"
Sharing similar sentiments, Jimmy Koh, from Area 2, who served as a Celebration Host at the 5pm service on April 2, 2022, arrived at church with much excitement. To him, “It now feels much more like our services during pre-COVID-19 times. I’m looking forward to more vibrant worship during services.”
Woo Kwai Peng, from Chinese Ministry, was also excited to be on-site for service on April 3, 2022. When asked what she was excited about, Kwai Peng replied, “We can now glorify God through our singing.”
Similar to these Trinitarians, I attended the 11am service on April 3, 2022 … and sang my heart out during worship, alongside many other congregants. But resumption of congregational singing was not the only change that brought back the sense of normalcy.
Being close, being one…
Though not as commonly cited, the removal of safe distance and zoning inside the service halls also significantly contributed to the restoration of “normalcy.”
About this particular change, Craig Choy, from Campus Ministry, looks forward to greater closeness, though he expects to see a larger congregation during services. He noted, “With zoning and the safe distancing tapes removed, everyone can now be closer.”
Before and After
Goodbye to the safe distancing tapes and zoning signages!
Janice Sin, from Area 1, who served as a traffic marshal at the 8.30am service on April 3, 2022, commented that the atmosphere was different, and added that it was good with more people present at the service.
In a similar vein, Kwai Peng also noted “It certainly feels closer now [in the Chinese service].”
A leader from the Chinese Ministry provided a richer context to what that closeness meant for them. In-person meet-ups, such as at services, mean a lot to the elderlies. Hence with measures eased and more expected to return on-site, they were very excited about this weekend’s services.
In fact, some woke up at 5am to get themselves ready, just so that they could arrive early for the Sunday, 8.30am Chinese service. For them, it was not just proximity of seats; it was the open door for more to return and connect in-person.
For me, it felt warm to have the seats near me filled by congregants I do not know. Coincidentally, Communion was served during this weekend. Having the emblems of Communion passed down the rows of seats enriched the significance of this particular change. We partook Communion as one body as we concurrently took steps to close the distance between us over the past two years.
There was no doubt about the increased (on-site) attendances on April 2-3, 2022. Based on her observation at the carpark, Janice said, “It feels great seeing more people coming back on-site. We saw more cars this morning…Hope to see more in the coming weeks.”
But there is still capacity for more to return on-site for services in the coming weeks.
The journey over the past two years has been tough for us in different ways – as a church, as a family (biological and spiritual), and as individuals. But surely amid all challenges, God has been good and is restoring us to the fullness of worship in His house!
About the Writer |
Currently with SK323A Connect Group, Edmund has been a Trinitarian since 1995. Married and father of one, he also serves regularly as a Traffic Marshal.
Reflect & Respond
What hope and anticipation do you have about church services expanding capacity for more to come on-site?
Want to connect on a deeper-level with a spiritual family? Join a Connect Group, a community of believers at Trinity who would love to support you in your faith journey at: bit.ly/TrinityJoinCG.
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