COVID-19: Low turnout as churches reopen in Lagos


Steve Agbota, Chinelo Obogo, Job Osazuwa, Vera Wisdom-Bassey and Braide Damiete

Churches in Lagos resumed, yesterday, after five months of lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, but recorded low turnout of worshippers.

Worshippers attributed the low turn out to the guidelines prohibiting persons above 60 and children below 15 years old from attendance.

Churches visited by Daily Sun had hand washing buckets, automated hand sanitising dispensers and infrared thermometers, while worshippers donned face mask, which  are part of COVID-19 protocols for public gathering.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Latter House Parish, Ago Palace Way, Anglican Church, Oke Afa, Catholics and Methodists churches, Isolo, recorded low turn out.

A member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ago Palace Way, Jide Sholanke, said apart from the guidelines, people were still afraid of coming to church because of the fears of contracting the virus.

However, while some churches like RCCG,  Methodists, Anglicans, Catholic and others reopened, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), Daystar Christian Centre, Synagogue Church of All Nations, Fountain of Life Church, The Covenant Church, Household of God and others did not open for different reasons.

MFM had announced that members would not gather for service in any of its church regions, branches and zones across Lagos and Ogun until September 13 in order to put in place preventive measures against the spread of the pandemic.

Daystar on its twitter handle said: “We are aware of the Lagos State Government’s announcement that churches can resume physical services. However, the leadership of Daystar has resolved not to open her worship centres for physical gathering on the immediate.“

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Pastor TB Joshua of Synagogue on his twitter handle, commended the state government and authorities for their efforts so far…

“However, having heard from the authorities, we are now waiting to hear from God. Please be assured that as soon as we hear from God, we will inform you when our services will resume. Emmanuel – God is with us.”

Also, Fountain of Life Church on its twitter handle said: “We acknowledge the announcement of the Lagos State government with respect to the resumption of physical church meetings. We will communicate the date for the commencement of our physical church services in due course.”

General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, in a video message titled: “From Lockdown to Leaping Up” urged all church members to start attending service from August 9, adding that people should not be deceived into thinking that attending service at home has become a permanent routine.

According to him, although some services would continue to hold online, congregants must be physically present in church as it attracts more blessings.

At the Living Faith Church, A.K.A. Winners Chapel, Dominion Centre, in FESTAC Town, the Provincial Head, Pastor Alex Aina, said worshippers were excited to resume and, therefore, complied with guidelines.

Aina said the church had installed 15 automated hand washing units with soap and automated hand sanitiser dispensers at the entrance and within the church premises.

At the Word Base Assembly, Frederick Fasheun Avenue, Ago, the church which used to hold only one service, split its service into two in compliance with guideline on having 50 per cent capacity.

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General Overseer of the church, Bishop Humphrey Erumaka who wore a face shield along with other pastors, said throughout the lockdown, the sanitation department of the church consistently ensured that inside the building and the surroundings were properly sanitised and cleaned. He said the church also provided palliatives on a regular basis for those in need in the Ago community.

At Okota Baptist Church, off Ali Dada junction, Ago Palace Way,  ushers were seen at the entrance taking the temperature of members and ensuring that their hands were sanitised. Inside the church, seats were spaced out and many members were seen wearing their face masks.

At the Redeemed Christian Church of God (Victory Assembly), Monsuru Bisiriyu Street, Ago Palace Way, the situation was the same.

There was also compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols  at The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) and God’s Possibility Believers Church also at Ago.

But a visit to churches in Alimosho Local Government Area showed strict compliance only in the big and registered churches.

At St. Joseph’s Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Church, Agodo-Egbe, some parishioners arrived at 5.40am for the first mass meant for 6.30am wearing face mask and went through COVID-19 protocols of submitting their names, phone numbers, home address and hand washing. The parishioners sat three in a pew and observed social distancing during Communion.

St. Dominic’s  Catholic Church, Yaba, Lagos held  Masses at five different centres  simultaneously.

The parishioners complied with  COVID-19 protocols such as wearing of face masks, observing social distancing  and others.

Rev. Fr. Charles Onwordi in his homily in one of the Mass centres   welcomed the parishioners  with a Homily titled: “Fear not, cry out to God for an end to this pandemic.’’

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He said the  pandemic was an  experience to draw the world closer to God.

At the Lord Chosen Charismatic Movement Ijesha, the social distancing too were observed as one third of the church members were in attendance, but children were not allowed into the church.

The General overseer, Pastor Lazarus Muoka, prayed for the recovery of the economy of Nigeria and those of other nations, which have drastically gone down as a result of the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Methodist Prelate of Nigeria, Uche Chukwuemeka Kanu, has called on citizens of the world to maintain discipline and keep to the COVID-19 guidelines.




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