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Dear pastors,

The restrictive measures with regard to worship services have been changed (to a limited extent).

The Federal Synod has communicated the following:

Yesterday 17/4/2020, late at night, a third edition of the Belgian Official Gazette was published.

A number of matters have been relaxed. This arrangement applies until 3 May 2020.

–    In bold the changes (compared to the previous publication of 3/23/2020)

–    Italics the unchanged (compared to the previous publication of 3/23/2020, but with the current numbering).

Recordings of worship services are possible with a maximum of ten persons (including everyone, “religious personnel” and “technical personnel” together). A minimum distance of 1.5 m must always be maintained. The church building must be closed during the recording.

(Article 5 of the Ministerial Decree of 23 III 2020, as amended by the Ministerial Decree of 17 IV 2020, Article 2, second paragraph, fourth indent)

A maximum of fifteen people may attend funeral services; this number also includes the undertaker (not 15+!).

(art. 5 as amended, second paragraph, first dash)

At religious marriages, only the spouses, their witnesses and the minister of worship (beware of the statute!) May be present.

(art. 5 as amended, second paragraph, third dash)

(Note: Protestant Evangelical worship has no “religious marriages.” Can the wedding blessing be considered as such? Determine for yourself whether it makes sense and is helpful. Always remember the constitutional order (always civil marriage first), which for us is also a logical sequence (a blessing is asked in the church about the marriage contracted.)

We continue to believe (based on the reading by the Ministry of Justice) that the pastoral work belongs to the third category of the “essential services” listed in the annex to the aforementioned Ministerial Order (“The services for care, reception and assistance for older persons, for minors, for disabled persons and for vulnerable persons, including victims of domestic and sexual violence ”). This implies that while pastors are recommended to “apply the teleworker system and the rules of social distancing [1.5m] to the extent possible”, the obligation to stay at home does not apply to them. (art. 3).

New: In addition, the possibility of “volunteering within… an essential service” is now expressly provided(NOTE: NOT ALL VOLUNTEER WORK, BUT ONLY WITH REGARD TO ESSENTIAL SERVICES AS DESCRIBED ABOVE).

(art. 8 of the Ministerial Decree of 23 III 2020, as amended by the Ministerial Decree of 17 IV 2020, art. 4, eighth indent)

Furthermore, one may – if necessary! – away from home “to provide assistance and care for the elderly, for minors, for the disabled and for the vulnerable”.

(Art. 8 as amended, fifth indent)

Anyone who is allowed to be active outside the home may also make the move.

(Art. 8 as amended, first dash (essential services), fifth dash (assistance), ninth dash (inclusion of worship))

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