Churches get innovative to serve more followers

Monday, July 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Officials at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church Buru Buru, fumigate pews before the start of a second service last Sunday. Photo/PD/BENARD ORWONGO

Church attendance in many parts of the country improved in the second Sunday since the reopening of places of worship four months after closure to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

 A survey in different parts of the country showed faithful are slowly adapting to the new normal at places of worship.

In Mombasa churches have adopted the new measures that include, temperature checks, social distancing as well as washing of hands before entering the places of worship.

In Holy Family Catholic Church, Kiembeni Parish priest, Rev Vincent Alicho called on Kenyans to help the less privileged who are adversely affected by Covid-19 pandemic.

“Before anyone is allowed to enter the church he or she has to wash hands, checked temperature and finally sanitise at the entrance of the church. The pews are also sanitised before another service starts,” he said.

 Alicho said the church has formed a committee to oversee the adherence of Covid-19 guidelines with the church under the guidance of Coast General Hospital’s Dr Anthony Mugaka.

Safety guidelines

In Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Kongowea, only 100 worshippers were allowed in at intervals of one hour as recommended by the government.

According to Joseph Mwashigadi Irina, the priest in church, those who want to attend are registered before entering and they have allocated designated places of washing hands before entering, ensuring that they have masks and they observe social distancing.

“We have adhered to all guidelines given to us by the Ministry of Health. We are not taking any chance because we know the threat brought about by Covid-19,” said Irina.

In Kisii, churches too observed the Covid-19 protocols as they held their services.

Ushers were at hand to take temperatures of faithful, record their details. There were handwashing stations and the benches were marked to ensure social distance. Every faithful had to also wear a mask.

Those aged over 58 kept off the churches and followed church services on televisions or radios

Godfrey Ototo Kisii Cathedral Church urged faithful cooperate with ushers and embrace directives in social places to curb the spread of the disease.

He said the church allows only 100 faithful per service for an hour each and there are four masses up from three which used to last for two hours each. 

Churches in Nakuru have been forced to restructure services in bid to comply with the directives aimed at preventing further spread of Covid-19 in the places of worship.

A spot check by People Daily in various churches within the county revealed total compliance of the regulations with some having as many as five services running up to 4pm in the evening.

At Nakuru’s Metro Church International in Freehold, things were different from the norm as the church had seven services from the previous two. 

Social distancing

The church’s Bishop Mike Brawan said they had complied with the guidelines such as social distancing, washing of hands, temperature checks and not admitting the aged and young.

“Unlike last Sunday people have adjusted fully, we have been forced to cancel a few programmes, but we are happy that the services are back,” said Brawan.

Brawan further noted that after every sessions a thorough fumigation is carried out to prevent further spread.

At St Monica Catholic Church at Section 58 in Nakuru, mass continued normally with a limited number of congregants allowed in the church amid tight observation of hygiene and social distance.

The church opted to add the number of mass to five from the usual two in a bid to accommodate all members willing to attend for prayers.

At Jesus Miracle Center in Shabab, senior pastor Julius Kimani, 57, said he is worried if the virus continues past next year he will not be able to attend services as he would have passed the required age.

 In Kisumu, the guidelines issued by the interfaith council for the reopening of churches made many Christians to forgo their normal routine during worship as service resumption entered the second week.

Members of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) are among those forced to abandon some of their routine every Saturday.

Group discussions

For instance, congregation at different SDA churches would have one hour lessons discussion in groups of between 10 to 15 people from 9 am to 10 am on a normal Sabbath day.

At Bonde SDA church in Homa Bay Town, church members held a crush programme on Saturday.

Their lesson discussion was held for 30 minutes and was not conducted in groups like in the past.

Pastor Isaiah Agagwa said 100 selected church members from different fellowship groups were to attend church.

In the past, everyone from different fellowship groups attended church at the same time.

“We have 550 registered members from four estates. A hundred people from the four areas were instructed to come to church at different times for one hour from 6:30 am with a 30-minute break for sanitising seats,” Pastor Agagwa said.

The church has also identified an emergency response team headed by medical professionals who will handle suspected Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Anthony Muheria has expressed concern over the manner in which many are handling the pandemic and has urged Kenyans to observe the guidelines.

 He took a swipe at political leaders who have been going against the Ministry of Health protocols saying they should be at the forefront setting a good example to Kenyans.

“I am pleading with everyone not to give up. Though numbers are getting high every day, we still have a very big potential to fight the disease,” he asked. - Reporting by Harrison Kivisu, Robert Ochoro, Roy Lumbe and Alvin Mwangi

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