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Liberian churches resume worship

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Churches across Liberia resumed their regular worship services on Sunday, May 17, more than one month after the government banned social gathering ordering all Churches, Mosques and worship centers closed.

The Remedy Movement International, one of Liberia’s growing charismatic churches here resumed worship on Sunday with a complete social distancing, suspending the roles of auxiliary groups in the church to avoid social contact and maintain social distancing. While the Pentecostal Church at the Vamoma traffic light in Sinkor, had police ensuring that those entering the sanctuary wore masks.

The ban, which was intended to halt the spread of the coronavirus here and ensure social distancing was lifted by President George Weah on Friday, May 8

President Weah on Friday, May 8 proposed that Churches, Mosques and worship centers consider operating 25 percent of their regular worship-hour occupancy for each service beginning Sunday, May 17, with Muslims permitted to begin operating in their Mosques on May 15.

The President’s call for the resumption of worships here was met with criticisms with some saying it was too early, while others said it was a high risk for infection.

Among the president’s critics was the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Peter Coleman. Sen. Coleman informed his colleagues at the Liberian Senate that there will be high risk of COVID-19 transmission if Churches were to open as ordered by President Weah.

His comment appears to have resonated with some denominations such as the Catholics, Methodists and Baptists churches which kept shut the doors of their churches on Sunday with statement to their worshipers that they were still observing the reduction in the number of confirmed corona virus cases here.

The Liberian Catholic Archbishop Most Rev. Lewis Zeigler in a statement asked all Parish Priests and Priests in charge of parishes in the Archdiocese of Monrovia to delay the opening of their churches for regular church activities till the end of May 2020, in the wake of daily increase of coronavirus cases here.

“This will enable us to monitor the reduction in the cases of the Coronavirus pandemic in the Archdiocese. By early June we shall observe and decide how to go forward with the resumption of our church activities. Many thanks for your understanding and cooperation,” a memorandum under his signature dated 13 May, says.

Meanwhile, on Saturday May 16, the eve of churches resumption, Liberia reported 226 confirmed coronavirus cases. Out of this number 85 remain active, 21 death and 120 recovered.
However, this did not stop zealous worshipers from trooping to their various worship centers.
At the Remedy Movement International where this writer joined the worship, Pastor Philemon A. Tarpeh, referred to as the Pioneer was very emphatic with the protocols. He outlined the various measures that members have to abide by this include walking 6ft or standing 6ft behind the next person.

There were stewards standing at the entry ensuring that worshipers enter with masks. Inside the sanctuary was a complete social distancing with worshipers sitting 6ft apart. There were sufficient microphones to ensure that no two person use one mic. Deacons who usually pass offering baskets around were not allowed to do so. Rather huge buckets were erected at vantage points to enable members drop their offerings and tithes.

“We are here to do two things,” Pastor Tarpeh said as he mounted the pulpit. He informed members that their presence was to thank God for the resumption of worship and to partake of the Blood of Sprinkling for the renewal of the mark of exemption and reestablishment of God’s Covenant of protection. After the first service, the chairs were sanitized for those coming for the second service while all microphones used during the first service were all removed and replaced by new ones.
By Othello B. Garblah

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