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Churches resort to online services amid Covid-19 pandemic

Tuesday March 24 2020
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A Catholic priest hears confessions at a parking lot in Bowie, Maryland USA on March 20, 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way churches traditionally conduct Sunday services. PHOTO | MANDEL NGAN | AFP

By FAITH NYAMAI
By BERNARDINE MUTANU

For the first time in the Kenya’s history, majority of churches have suspended their Sunday services across country.

A number of churches have instead directed their members to follow online services as the country puts in strict measures to control the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) which is now a global pandemic.

Most churches have asked their members to stay at home and to pay their tithes and offerings through mobile money transfer services and online payment platforms.

Those that have not suspended their services have shortened their masses or resorted to spraying their church premises with disinfectants to kill bacteria and viruses.

SANITISATION

Others have promised to provide soap and water for their congregants top wash their hands besides providing sanitisers in order to stop any possible spread of the virus among members.

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The churches have also promised to keep social distancing of at least one metre between any two congregants.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God Solution Centre asked its members to follow their services online and gave a pay bill number through which to pay offerings and tithes.

The church said the move is occasioned by the President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive to reduce social gatherings.

ONLINE SERVICES

“As a church, we are taking immediate steps to ensure that we comply with government instructions and ensure we do not lose fellowship with God,” said Pastor Obasike.

“We therefore urge our members and friends to join us on our various social media platforms for online services beginning this Sunday from 11am,” he added.

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has also suspended all its physical Sunday services for the next 30 days in line with the directive that seeks to help in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

SPECIAL BROADCASTS

The church announced that Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit will be conducting special broadcast services on Sundays at 8am and Wednesdays 6pm.

“This will be streamed live on the official Archbishop and ACK Facebook pages [and] other platforms. Additionally, we encourage the use of technology in the Ministry,” said the ACK archbishop.

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) has also suspended its Sunday services and all other church activities.

PCEA Secretary-General Peter Kaniah said the church has suspended the services for the next 21 days.

CATHOLIC CHURCH

But the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said holy masses will continue in all their churches.

The Catholic bishops said they have put all measures in place to ensure high levels of hygiene and that one meter social distancing are followed.

Other churches which have suspended their Sunday services include the Christ is the Answer Ministries, Nairobi Gospel, City Church and the Kenya Assemblies of God among others.

Africa Inland Church Kenya (AIC) Administrative Secretary Rev John Kitala in a memo to all churches in the country suspended all midweek fellowships and activities and asked members to observe social distance.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

“For those who are able to sustain Sunday worship services, ensure all hygiene requirements including hand sanitisers and one-meter space created between individuals is observed,” he said in a statement on behalf of presiding Bishop Abraham Mulwa.

AIC has also directed churches in counties where gatherings have been banned to obey the law and abstain.

The Redeemed Gospel Church which is headed by Bishop Arthur Kitonga said it has suspended all midweek services and meetings but Sunday services will continue.

MASSES SHORTENED

The Catholic Church Sunday masses in the Archdiocese of Nairobi have been shortened.

In a letter addressed to all priests in Nairobi, Archdiocese Pastoral Coordinator Fr Wallace Ng’ang’a directed priests not to extend mass beyond one hour.

Offertory will be done after the final communion prayer to avoid possible spread of the virus during reception of Holy Communion Fr Ng’ang’a said.

“Where possible, encourage Christians to use pay bill number,” he said.

The priests were directed to avoid children and Sunday school masses.

The church recommended that the number of masses to be increased to avoid congestion and to ensure the one meter distance is observed.

NO SHAKING HANDS

Faithful will not shake hands as a sign of peace as has been the tradition while church announcements will also be few according to the directive.

“Please take any precautionary measures according to the situation on the ground,” said Fr Ng’ang’a who requested Christians to continue praying for God’s mercy for Covid-19 to be eradicated in the world.

The Catholic Church is among several others which have declined to suspend Sunday masses and services.

On Thursday, KCCB Chairman Philip Anyolo said the church will remain open to prayers.

But the All Saints' Cathedral, Nairobi Chapel, PCEA, Christ is The Answer Ministries (CITAM) Sunday services.

Nairobi’s Jamia Mosque also suspended Friday prayers.

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