Church attendance low in spite of relaxed guidelines
Church attendance in various places of worship remained low while others remained closed despite the Inter Religious Council (IRC) relaxing earlier guidelines and allowed them to accommodate more members.
Although most churches had slowly resumed operations, a section of the religious fraternity kept away from the physical church gatherings and continued with their online services which they have been conducting.
A spot check by People Daily revealed that places of worship such as Parklands Baptist Church, Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM), Kingdom Seekers Church and the Faith Evangelistic Ministries (FEM) among others had opted to remain closed while others like Jubilee Christian Church (JCC) Soul Harvesters, Apostolic Faith Church and had resumed normal perorations.
On the other hand churches such as the Holy Family Basillica, St Paul's Chapel and All Saints Cathedral saw a slight increase in the number of Christian faithful.
On July 14, the government set guidelines on partial places of worship opening but some religious including the Jamia Mosque in Nairobi, the All Saints' Cathedral, FEM, the Jubilee Christian Centre, Parklands Baptist Church vowed not to re-open until they were allowed to accommodate more members.
In Nairobi county several churches revealed how they were slowly adopting to the new guidelines set out by the Inter-religious council with some of the leaders expressing mixed reactions over the decision by the IRC to relax the guidelines.
Speaking to People Daily on phone, an official at Parklands Baptist Church said they are still closed to the congregants’ as the earlier notice to suspend the services has not been vacated.
“We have not resumed church services, we are still going on with virtual or online services until further notice,” the official said.
At Christ is The Answer Ministries (Citam), which has a capacity of at least 3,000, the gates remained closed with congregants encouraged to continue with online services until further notice.
At Kingdom Seekers Church doors remained closed with Apostle William Kimani, the founder of the church saying members will continue following services online as still a huge number will be locked out should they re-open.
“We want to accommodate everybody and that’s why we will remain closed but we will continue with our services online and we pray God that we will be allowed to administer to all our members,” he said.
But JCC which had suspended its services even after the government partial opening is back according to Rev Cathy Kiuna.
“We are back in Church, this is a praise and thanksgiving service for this far the lord has brought us,” she said.
The church has complied with the Ministry of Health Guidelines on social distancing, hand washing among other guidelines.
Bishop Peter Gatimu of Apostolic Faith Church said the directive to increase members has made it easy for them as they are now accommodating more members unlike the past
“We are happy that our government understands our role as the church and we promise to follow the regulations keenly,’.
The situation was similar at the Soul Harvesters Church Dandora where services were going as usual with members keen to follow the guidelines by the government.
In Nakuru, a sizable number of churches had fewer than 100 congregants, some opting to follow proceedings through online platforms with others remaining closed since the onset of the pandemic.
Kenya Christian Fellowship Church Pastor Christopher Kamau said a number of faithfuls are cautiously avoiding gatherings adding that many have requested the church to continue with online services.
He added that his church which has a capacity of at least 1500 worshipers had been disadvantaged with the limited number of congregants allowed to attend saying with the revision they expect more to turn up.
“We are taking things slow and we need to be conscious that people will not just rush and attend services so everything is gradual and we expect the numbers to rise,” said Kamau.
At St Monica Catholic Church at Section 58 in Nakuru, mass continued normally with details of all worshippers including their age, phone numbers and where they come from were recorded at the entrance after they sanitised their hands before entering the church.
The church has added the total number of mass to five from the usual two in a bid to accommodate all members willing to attend for prayers.
In Mombasa, some churches, which had closed, opened for Sunday services, while others had increased the capacity of congregants to about 150 up from the previous 100 numbers.
According to Father Wilybard Lagho, vicar general of Mombasa Archdiocese, the church has adopted the new guidelines to ensure all worshippers are not left out, including the elderly
“We have allowed the elderly with above 65 years to be able to worship on Saturday.
They are only allowed to worship alone so that we can avoid mixing them with other congregants on Sunday because of their health considerations,” said Lagho.
At Kisima Cha Neema Cha Mwana Wa Daudi, church in Mishomoroni, the church has also increased the number of those who can attend the service, the church Bishop Mary Kagendo confirmed.