Lifting ban on churches: We won’t rush govt -says Christian Council

The Most Reverend Dr Paul Kwabena Boafo, Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana said the Ecumenical bodies of churches will not rush the government to lift the ban on the closure of church gatherings. 

    He said the church leaders would always reserve that prerogative to the government, and wait patiently for the state’s directive as to when churches can be allowed to reconvene for communal services.
“For the ecunenical bodies we agree with the government that the sanctity of life is a priority and so if the numbers of COVID-19 cases keep on rising and we have not plateaued or we do not see a decline in the cases, then we will say that let us keep to the ban until we see that the situation can be handled, Rev. Boafo said. 

Rev. Boafo who is also the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview and said “We need to contain these things else, people might even fear going to church and get exposed to the virus.”

He explained that the Christian leaders decided to fully support government’s restrictions on social gatherings and the closure of the churches because they sought the need for the country to do so to be able to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“It is important to note that addressing COVID-19 requires a whole -government- and a whole-of-society response and the church being a major stakeholder is indispensable in the State’s overall COVID-19 response”, Rev. Boafo said.

He said since the closure, the government from time to time met with the ecumenical bodies, made up of the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Catholic Bishops, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Ghana National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches and other faith based organisations to deliberate on the situation. 

He disclosed that during their last meeting with President Akufo-Addo, the churches were asked to suggest ways towards the reopening of churches in Ghana whenever it become feasible to do so. 
He said the guidelines, that had already been presented to the President were to help to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.

According to Rev. Boafo, since faith and science go together, the church leaders and the ecumenical councils consulted their health personnel in the Christian Health Association of Ghana, to advise them on what to do and out of that consultation, a guideline was drafted and sent to the President on May 7.

He mentioned that among the strategies proposed were strict hygienic and hand washing protocols, properly spaced sitting arrangements, wearing of facemasks to church, no handshakes,  and no waving of handkerchiefs at church.

There could also be measures to take the temperatures of members before they entered church premises, while families could be made to sit together at church observing social distancing. 

It also advised that communion services, a Christian sacrament of  sharing of wine and bread, should be done in such a way that reduce hand-to-hand transmission while offering individual cups for the communion.

The giving of offerings and tithes could be done via mobile money system or be put in a stationary bowls or baskets with wide openings.

The guidelines also proposed that intensive education of the members of the congregation to be done by selected trained members of the church, while church services should be done in sessions to reduce the number of people that congregated at a time for worship.

Rev. Boafo said “These are protocols that will help our well-being and so we encourage everybody to embrace them”.

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