Several Christian religious institutions in Lagos State have announced a suspension of their Sunday services over the escalating spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state and the country at large.
Some of the churches who have suspended their services include the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Citadel Global Community Church (formerly known as The Latter Rain Assembly), the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Living Faith Church Worldwide, Daystar Christian Centre and The Covenant Christian Centre.
The move by these churches comes after the Lagos State government on Saturday announced a downward review of the permissible number of persons in religious and social gatherings from 50 to 20 in a bid to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
With the new state directive, churches are now urging their congregation to follow the services through their in-house television channels or stream it online.
The Lagos Catholic Archdiocese in a statement on Saturday declared that the celebration of Sunday and weekday Masses with the congregation has been suspended in the archdiocese for a month.
According to the statement signed by Alfred Adewale Martins, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, priests will, however, continue to celebrate private Masses in order to pray for the faithful against the ravaging pandemic.
“With deep regrets, we are constrained to direct that Mass with the faithful in attendance is to be suspended for the next four weeks. Mass is not suspended as priests will continue to offer Mass for the people and the whole world, what has been suspended is Mass with the faithful in attendance,” the statement read.
Martins urged the Catholic faithful to remain prayerful, asking them to take the present situation “as a sacrifice” and turn to their television to follow the celebration of the Mass.
Similarly, the Citadel Global Community Church, in a statement jointly signed by Mr. and Mrs. Tunde Bakare, its Senior Pastors, announced the suspension of its Sunday and Wednesday services with immediate effect and will continue till further notice.
“In view of this (the LASG limitation on gatherings), as a law-abiding and governmental church, we have resolved that henceforth Worship Service on Sundays and the City Impact Bible Study on Wednesdays are hereby suspended with immediate effect and till further notice,” the statement read.
The church directed its congregation instead to join the suspended services via its live-streaming platforms.
It, however, directed that its fellowship at various house centres in Lagos State held every Saturdays continue at the scheduled time.
In the same vein, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) has revised its earlier arrangement for its congregants, which had directed the arrangement of multiple services.
In a statement signed by Funso Odesola, The Assistant General Overseer in charge of Administration and Personnel, the RCCG noted that following the new directive by the Lagos State government, the congregation should follow its Sunday service via its in-house channel and online platforms.
“The attention of the leadership of the Redeemed Christian Church of God has been drawn to the new directive of the Lagos State Government reducing the number of people permitted at any social or religious gathering from 50 to 20.
“This cancelled the government’s initial order which formed the basis of arrangements made by many of our Churches for their worship services tomorrow.
“It is important that we all adhere to this directive,” the statement read.
It stated that Enoch Adeboye, the RCCG General Overseer, will be on television and online for the next four weeks.
It also emphasised that in parishes where services would hold, pastors on ground should guide all congregants on safety directives, adding that “the ideal social distancing rule of at least one metre is observed”.
Also, the Living Faith Church Worldwide (a.k.a Winners Chapel) has stated that its services have been postponed indefinitely.
According to a statement signed by David Abioye, LFCW First Vice President, the church urged all its members to follow the directives of the relevant authorities to curb the spread of the virus.
It also directed its congregants to live stream the Sunday service through its online platforms.
The statement read: “In view of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic across the globe which has necessitated temporary shutdown of activities within nations of the world to curb its further spread, all stations are hereby informed that the Mothers’ Day celebration earlier scheduled for Sunday, 22nd March is hereby postponed indefinitely.
“Furthermore, all stations are to comply with any restriction introduced by the government of their nation, so as not to be seen as contravening the laws of the land.
“Church members should be admonished to take advantage of the various online primary links and other social media platforms below, to watch services in their homes while the situation subsists, believing that an end has come to the spread in the name of Jesus. Amen!
Similarly, the Senior Pastors of Daystar Christian Centre, Pastors Sam and Nike Adeyemi, said in a statement that church services, both at the main auditorium in Oregun, Ikeja and all its satellite centres, would now hold on the church’s online platforms.
“From the weekend of March 21, Daystar Christian Centre will not hold physical gathering for worshippers at any of our locations in Oregun, Lekki, Ikorodu and Badagry centres till further notice. The Daystar experience will henceforth hold online on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only on our online platforms.”
The church added that the proposed launch of its Alimosho satellite centre that was to hold on Sunday (today) had been put on hold, saying “a new date will be made known in due course”.
Equally, the Covenant Christian Centre in a statement issued by Poju Oyemade, its Senior Pastor, on Twitter, announced that all the church services for Sunday (today) will be held online.
“Join us Tomorrow online on any of our Channels-Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and also via Audio Livestream as we continue our teaching on The Blood that Speaks. It will also be a time of Communion,” the statement read.