Church congregations gathered on Sunday for the first time in nearly two months.
Restrictions limiting the size of meeting due to the Covid-19 situation were lifted last week allowing gatherings of up to 100 people.
Church of the Blessed Sacrament parish priest Damian Wynn-Williams said it was with “great gladness” church members were able to gather for Mass as usual on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 8.30am and 10am.
“As had been expected numbers were down considerably, with some still feeling cautious at this time about coming out and mixing in crowds, but also no doubt because the longer Queen’s Birthday gave people the first real opportunity since the lockdown began to get away from town for a break,” Fr Wynn-Williams said.
About 120 attended services in Gore and 18 at Balfour.
“Of course we could not enjoy much socialising after the services afterwards – no cup of tea afterwards.
“People observed the required distancing from one another, signed in on arrival to record their contact details and used hand sanitiser.”
Gore Baptist Church pastor Brent Davie said the Sunday service resumed with some changes.
“Sunday mornings we now have two church services, now we have to record people coming, have hand sanitiser available,” he said.
Lumsden Balfour Kingston Presbyterian Church pastor Mike Kirkby-Sing said church services resumed observing a health and safety plan.
“At the same time online resources will continue to be provided for those not able to come to church,” he said.
During the lockdown restrictions churches used the internet to keep in touch.
Wyndham Evangelical Church pastor Geoff Lloyd said he had posting videos online including a service online for his congregation.
“On Monday there’s a video for the kids where my 2-year-old [Daniel] joins me on the beanbag for a Bible story and competition for any children who want to watch.”
Calvin Presbyterian Church lead minister Ken Williams said as well as Sunday services online congregation members sent in short videos which were posted as part of the service.
“At a time when people couldn’t really see too many people it was lovely to see familiar faces on the screen,” he said.
Gore and Districts Anglican Parish vestry secretary Anne Gover said during lockdown church members held morning prayer four times a week, a Sunday morning service, vestry meetings and home group online using Zoom.
“Our Sunday morning Zoom service has attracted people from all over New Zealand and even Australia, the United Kingdom and South Africa, which has meant family members could be together at worship,” Mrs Gover said.
“Vestry agreed we would recommence services in the church beginning this coming Sunday, which is very appropriate as it is Trinity Sunday and Bishop Steven Benford is preaching.”
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church session clerk Joy Creighton said the church was without a minister at present and each week during a lockdown a different person wrote a service that was sent out by email or posted or delivered to those without email access.
“About a third of our congregation don’t have computers so we decided not to go down the technology path with livestreaming of church services,” Mrs Creighton said.
Services would resume on Sunday.