A section of the clergy in Nakuru County has called for a review of the guidelines issued by the government on the re-opening of places of worship across the country.
They say this will help prevent limiting the freedom of worship which they insists is inalienable.
The religious leaders said the restrictions on churches meant to safeguard against the spread of Covid-19 negate the essence of congregating for emotional sustenance, community and the much needed sense of direction from others.
Speaking in Nakuru on Wednesday, Victorious Community Church Bishop Jackson Maina observed that the restrictions barring people aged 58 years and above from attending church services are discriminating against the elderly whom he says look up to the church for sustenance.
Further, Bishop Maina, who is aged 70, noted that the age limit is counterproductive as the leaders of most churches fall in that age bracket and without their participation, church services will not run smoothly.
He also noted that the requirement that only 100 participants attend service may adversely affect commitment of members to the church and may lead to antisocial behaviour as faithful will feel locked out of places of worship.
Last week, the Nakuru pastor’s fellowship led by their chairman, Pastor Alex Maina, also faulted the limit on the age of those attending church services.
"We thank the council for their consensus to reopen churches. However, we are not in agreement with the proposal to limit people based on their age," said Maina.
Dr Charles Marita of Christian Revival Church also took an issue with the limit on the number of persons allowed per session, saying that some churches are big enough to accommodate over 100 people while still observing the guidelines from the Ministry of Health.
WHY ONLY CHURCHES
He wondered why the rules are being imposed only on churches, noting that other places have not been issued with such guidelines on the maximum number of people to host.
The religious leaders said as the preparations to reopen places of worship commence as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, most churches in Nakuru have begun conforming to the stipulated safeguards in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus during prayer sessions.
Their counterparts in Elburgon also shared the same sentiments, saying that allowing churches to run services for only one hour is unrealistic and unfair.
Bishop Kamuri Muya of Talents Church, speaking on behalf of pastors from Elburgon, applauded the President for reopening the churches, but said the regulations put in place are too stringent and cannot be achieved.
He said allowing 100 people to church per service did not consider the fact that some churches have huge halls.
“President Kenyatta needs to sit down with a consultative committee and come up with a solution. Those aged over 58 years have not been banned from using public vehicles, visiting restaurants and eateries, markets, funerals and bars among other public places,’’ Bishop Muya argued.
Addressing mourners in Elburgon, the pastors were, however, optimistic that consultations will bear fruit.
Last month, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Health CS Mutahi Kagwe jointly appointed an inter-religious council chaired by Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria to review the re-opening of churches following a directive from President Kenyatta.
The reopening will be in four phases, with the first one commencing this week.