The Welsh Government has announced that churches must close from Friday, as part of measures to combat rising cases of coronavirus.
The lockdown, which is planned to last until 9 November, orders places of worship to shut, along with pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.
Churches will not be allowed to open for regular services, but will remain able to host weddings and funerals.
Revd Dave Gobbett, Lead Minister at Highfields Church in Cardiff, told The Christian Institute he found the announcement “extremely disappointing”.
“For months we’ve been working tirelessly to comply with government guidelines to ensure that places of worship are as COVID secure as any indoor space I know – be that a supermarket or a hospital. And I know of no known cases of community transmission linked to churches.
“I fear that these new restrictions against gathered ministry — albeit only temporary, for now — will only serve to weaken our communities, our pastoral care, and our gospel witness.
“These are weary, confusing days for our nation. The Government is in an impossibly difficult position and they remain in my prayers. But Jesus Christ is the only hope for a hurting and divided world, and we close the doors to him at our peril.”
Last month, almost 700 leaders of UK churches urged the Prime Minister and First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland not to close churches again amid efforts to reduce cases of coronavirus.
The open letter, co-authored by Revd Gobbett and four other church leaders from around the UK, was clear in its support for applying measures to combat the virus whilst keeping churches open.
It stated: “As we live in the shadow of a virus we are unable to control, people urgently need the opportunity to hear and experience the good news and hope of Jesus Christ, who holds our lives in his hands.”
Wales’ “firebreak” lockdown also prohibits gatherings with people from different households in both indoor and outdoor settings.