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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Why suspend congregational worship in churches and mosques?

July 6, 2021

By Clarence Roy-Macaulay   OOR (National, 26th April, 2006)

             Associated Press Gramling Spirit Award (International, August, 2006)

  One of the restrictive measures announced by President Julius Maada Bio last Thursday July 1, 2021 to curb the spread of COVID-19 global pandemic, especially during the outbreak of the third wave of the virus at this time is –  “Congregational worship in Churches, Mosques, and other religious places is suspended for a period of one month effective Friday 2nd July 2021”.   WHY,  when there are other measures in place like wearing of face masks and social distancing, which should be made  compulsory.

I understand that our Religious Leaders were never consulted by State Authorities before this particular intervention was included in the broadcast last. week because if they were consulted they are in the position to advise State Authorities about the enforcement  of the measures referred to above to curb the spread of the virus through STEWARDS in Churches, for example..

The author of this article writes as someone who is familiar with operations, particularly during  Divine Services having held the positions of Steward, Society Steward for more than forty years and Senior Society Steward (SSS) as it is popularly known,  January 1994 – March 1999, during which period acted as Chapel Steward as well when the substantive holder passed away and at the subsequent election of officers to fill the vacancy, was unanimously elected as Chapel Steward at the end of the stipulated five-year term for SSS.

I mention this bit because according to the CPD (Constitutional Practice & Discipline) of the Methodist Denomination, one of the duties of the SSS is to be in charge of the process during Divine Service.   He/She is assisted by the Society Stewards and Stewards who mann the main entrances into the Church and as such are responsible to ensure that all worshipers “comply with the Government NACOVERC Guidelines & Regulations during all Church Services and meetings”  at this particular time of the global pandemic including wearing of face masks and social distancing.  The quotation is printed  in the Order of Service and Notices for every Sunday, in Buxton Memorial Methodist Church, at Charles Street, Freetown, during this period of the global pandemic

Regular worshipers at Divine Services are also aware that there are veronica buckets with water, soap and sanitizers at the entrance of the Church.   In addition, with reference to Buxton Memorial Methodist Church at Charles Street in particular, of which I am born and bred, the names, addresses and cellphone numbers of each worshiper is recorded before entering the Church.

This writer is aware of the opinion of some people, to which they are entitled,  that one does not need to attend Divine Services on Sundays and one can pray and read the Bible at home to be spiritually filled and be blessed by God.   There is what is known as Fellowship with God and mankind.

Speaking for myself, I go to Divine Services on Sundays for three reasons, the singing  – hymns and accompanying tunes, the Scripture Readings, lessons derived from them. and the Sermon,- message learnt,  that can be of benefit to self, coupled with the Fellowship.

One gets a different feeling by staying at home on a Sunday, praying, reading the scripture lessons and even singing alone,  from attending Divine Services in person and listening to the Message from “The Man of God” as preached to the congregation and if you concentrate on the process during the two hours duration (not ninety minutes) you come out of the Church spiritually filled for the coming  week and to be guided in your daily endeavours until the following Sunday.

As far as Congregational worship in Churches is concerned in relation to curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic at this material time of the outbreak of the Third Wave of the virus, the emphasis should be on the ENFORCEMENT of existing measures not the proliferation of measures which are not adhere to.

The basic problem which to some extent is hindering the development of this our small country with a population of about 7.5 million people, is with the enforcement of existing Laws and rRgulations without fear or favour.

In Sierra Leone today when you leave your residence in the morning to attend to your daily affairs, from the moment you step out in the streets, you are confronted with lawlessness and indiscipline whether a driver or pedestrian, which President Bio promised to fight against in his manifesto during the last Presidential campaign.  

In this instance, enforcement of wearing of face masks and social distancing should be made compulsory.   Suspending Congregational Worship in Churches, Mosques…. will not solve the problem.   Representatives of the inter-Religious Council should form a delegation to appeal to President Julius Maada Bio to review this particular “intervention.”   He is a “listening President”, we have been told.  

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