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Christian group sets May 31 for return to services during pandemic

All News 22:12 May 21, 2020

SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean Christian group said Thursday it will launch a campaign to put its believers back in the pews by the end of this month under quarantine measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Moon Soo-seok, co-head of the United Christian Churches of Korea (UCCK), said at a press conference that his group has targeted May 31 as the day when churchgoers will start attending services again.

With the threat of COVID-19 very much present and strict social distancing guidelines in place, many churches across the country have been holding online services for most of the spring. But with the government having loosened social distancing measures, UCCK has decided it can go ahead and open the doors of its churches.

Moon Soo-seok, co-head of the United Christian Churches of Korea, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on May 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

"We'd like to emphasize that we're not going ahead with on-site services just recklessly," Moon said. "The goal of our campaign is to bring believers together and restore our faith while adhering to quarantine measures."

UCCK has major Protestant orders, including the Presbyterian Church of Korea, under its wing.

UCCK published guidelines on a return to services, which include a note that churches should look to have at least 80 percent of their believers on hand on May 31.

There are lingering concerns about mass infections, especially with South Korea reporting multiple cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul's Itaewon district each day. The recent reopening of schools could potentially lead to infections among students.

In response to criticism that churches may be rushing their members back, pastor So Gang-seok, another UCCK official, said the organization has been planning for the campaign since before Itaewon-related cases surged.

"If things go out of control and we start seeing thousands of new cases, then we'll have to adjust our plan," So added. "This campaign is not about pushing ahead with services, but about restoring the essence of services."

So Gang-seok (L), a pastor and senior official with United Christian Churches of Korea (UCCK), speaks at a press conference in Seoul on May 21, 2020. At right is Moon Soo-seok, co-head of UCCK. (Yonhap)


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