With UK Churches currently prohibited by their government from singing during worship even with masks on (also limiting the number of musicians on stage to 6), one church found a creative (and stupid at the same time) way to bypass this restriction: Makaton.
Makaton uses signs and symbols, alongside speech, in order to communicate ideas, and functions similar to a much-simplified sign language. In this case, they’ve dropped the speech and only use the signing.
Woking United Reformed Church, a progressive congregation in Woking, UK, began the project last year upon hearing that singing would be disallowed by the government overlords. They hired an expert to teach the congregation, believing it would be a helpful tool in their worship so long as singing is disallowed, with pastrix (because there’s no such thing as a female pastor) Lucy Brierly saying :
“With the service full of young people and children, I had the challenge of ensuring the worship was engaging enough to ‘keep’ them even though they couldn’t leave their seats or sing. I was delighted to see them all engaging with the songs through signs, and it was a beautiful sight to see those gathered joining in unison, signing the words along to the music.”
While the band plays, congregation members stand silently and those proficient enough would be able to use gestures to repeat some of the lyrics in the songs, while others who have been slacking might make the occasional sign, and visitors are left to say nothing.
If people wish to include sign language or Makaton into their worship, that is certainly their choice and all well and good. But a church congregation refusing to worship God with their voices when they have them, even under masks and socially distanced, for months and months on end, is biblical disobedience and sin, plain and simple.
Though the fact that they are already attending this service with a woman in charge and belonging to a denomination that is fully supportive of same-sex marriage should show they are no stranger to hardening their heart and suppressing the voice of the Holy Spirit.