Faith

Reopening: Christian leaders jubilate in anticipation

The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), which has its awesome Redemption Camp situated in Mowe area of Ogun State, has received with gladness the news regarding the lifting of the five-month-old closure on churches Lagos and Ogun states with effect from August 7 and 14.

 

RCCG Media and Public Relations Manager, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, who conveyed the gratitude of the church during an exclusive interview with our correspondent yesterday said: “We received the news with joy because it gives people the opportunity to gather together and worship God.”

 

He added that the announcement, which was made by the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was also received with caution “that people will keep safe and obey all the necessary protocols of the pandemic.”

 

Pastor Olaitan explained that just as the church is interested in having people gather together to worship God and to pray, it is also interested in the health of the people.

 

While updating journalists on the efforts made by his administration to combat the pandemic in his state, the governor had on Thursday directed that all religious centres shut down as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic be reopened for worship on August 14, in strict compliance to stipulated guidelines. “In the last few weeks, two important subjects have pervaded public discourse as it concerns Ogun State and COVID-19.

 

They border on reopening of schools and the reopening of worship centres. These two subjects have peculiar importance to us as a government.

“The education sector has not only been one of the biggest industries in our dear state, and there is no gainsaying that we are the education capital of Nigeria. We also are homes to the biggest worship centres … in Nigeria:… and Christianity.

 

Here is where people come from different parts of the nation and even from all over the world to worship God in truth and in Spirit,” the governor pointed out.

 

Meanwhile, Christian leaders in Lagos State have also heaved a big sigh of relief following the lifting of the ban on places of worship in the state. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced the resumption of churches and mosques, during a briefing yesterday, said that worship centres, which had been shut in the state since March, will resume with effect from Friday, August 7 for Muslim worshippers and on Sunday, August 9 for Christian worshippers.

 

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had okayed the reopening of worship centres in the country in June but the Lagos State government insisted that they remained shut. “We will only allow 50 per cent of their maximum capacities, either at the church or at the mosque.

Churches which have a Saturday worship day will also be allowed to hold worships. “We must reiterate that places of worship have their regular once a week service at designated days.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, there will be Friday worships for our Muslim followers and Sunday worships for our Christian followers,” the governor added. Christian leaders have been expressing their gratitude over the Governor’s order for resumption of worship in the state.

 

The Director of Social Communications in the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev Father Godonu said: “We are very much okay with that.” He, however, added that their guidelines of worship as earlier released before the government changed its mind have not changed.

 

“We’re currently updating it to suit the new guidelines,” Fr Godonu said. The President of Pentecostal Ministers Forum, Archbishop Chidi Anthony, was jubilant saying:

“At least Christian believers can go back to church and serve their God.” He regretted that many believers have back tracked due to the ban on fellowship. As for Rev James Akinadewo of Motilatu Cherubium and Seraphim Church Worldwide: “It is a good development but government must sincere while the church continues to pray for our leaders.”

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