5 Apr 2020

American Samoans to mark Palm Sunday in home

4:05 pm on 5 April 2020

Palm Sunday services are usually marked with processions, re-enactments of the passion of Christ and members waving palm leaves and singing traditional songs.

But not this Sunday.

American Samoa's ban on all church services under the emergency declaration for Covid-19 came into effect this weekend.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Monica Miller

Church leaders used social media to notify their members that there would be no religious services this Sunday.

The largest church in the territory, the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa, said in a notice on Facebook, that all church services would be suspended until further notice.

It said that while there had been no confirmed case of coronavirus in the territory, the Committee of Elders had accepted an appeal from the Governor to cease services in the interest of protecting the health and well-being of people.

The church leaders encouraged families to hold prayer services in their homes, and parishes were urged to use social media to stream their services.

The CCCAS was the only mainstream church which held church services last Sunday.

Earlier the General Secretary Rev Nafatali Falealii had told KHJ News once there was a confirmed Covid-19 case in the territory CCCAS will cancel all Sunday services.

The Methodist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Catholics cancelled their services last week.

Following the ban on church services, issued Thursday local time, Bishop Peter Brown notified all priests, "...with sadness but understanding we accept the governor's declaration to suspend all church services in American Samoa.

He said this would cover all services, including weekday Masses and Way of the Cross.

Bishop Brown said he knew it would be a challenge for some.

"We are asked to do penance in the Season of Lent. This situation is a great opportunity to totally place our trust in God's mercy."

Last Sunday the local diocese began streaming Masses on Facebook.