The main leadership of Jesus Winner Ministry Church has disowned its Meru-based pastor Nathan Kirimi who on Wednesday issued misleading statements to his flock on the coronavirus pandemic.
Rev Kirimi had lashed out at bishops who have suspended worship services while laughing off hand washing practices currently happening in churches, saying he believes Covid-19 -- which has so far claimed more than 9,800 lives globally -- is a hoax.
He had also said that he would not suspend his church meetings, in total disregard of a government directive that social gatherings should be banned.
But the head of Jesus Winner Ministry, Bishop Edward Mwai, termed Rev Kirimi's claims unlawful and against the government’s efforts to contain the disease.
In a statement issued through the church's media channels, Bishop Mwai said Jesus Winner Ministry supports the State's efforts and had already suspended services.
“The management, Board and the Secretary of Jesus Winner Ministry wish to inform Kenyans that the statements made by Rev Nathan Kirimi of Meru are his personal opinions and do not reflect the official position of the church. The board has already instituted remedies and summoned the pastor to ensure that such an occurrence won’t be repeated now or in the future,” the statement reads.
Bishop Mwai further said that Rev Kirimi is not authorised to speak for the church and has been warned severally over misconduct.
“Rev Kirimi has no position in the national or regional council of the church. These are personal opinions. This is not a matter to be taken lightly because the disease has killed many and affected the entire world,” he said.
The church's national council Secretary-General, Raphael Mwiti, reiterated to the flock that the disease is real.
“As a church, we condemn the pastor and dissociate ourselves from the utterances. We urge Kenyans to adhere to government directives so that we can overcome the disease,” Rev Mwiti said.
Bishop Mwai said all congregations in the country will be suspended from Sunday to protect its members from Covid-19. He said church sermons will be conveyed through its media channels.
This comes as more churches suspended Sunday services after Kenya confirmed its first coronavirus case last week.
The Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and All Saints' Cathedral Anglican Church have suspended all physical congregations across the country until further notice.
Several other churches have made it voluntary for members to attend Sunday service while promising to re-do sitting arrangements to avoid physical contact.