Gyang Bere, Jos
In compliance with governments directives to stop large gathering and practice social distancing, most churches across the country, yesterday, were either shut or recorded low turnout.
The directives were given as a means of curbing the coronavirus which has hit almost 100 and showed no sign of abating.
In Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, alongside his aides, joined the worship at Aso Villa Chapel online in compliance.
His media aide, Laolu Akande, said: “Today, we just finished Sunday worship at the Aso Villa Chapel via live streaming service (online), as worshipers joined from the comfort of their homes. As the Lord lives, we shall beat COVID-19.”
Some churches in Gwagwalada, Kwali and Abaji Area Councils in the FCT where under lock and key, while others had few members in attendance.
ECWA Church Kuje canceled Church services, and asked members to worship at their various praying cell groups of not more than 25 persons.
At Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Kwali, the gate was under lock and key with a notice that there would be no service till further notice.
Also, most churches in Rivers had not more than 50 members in each worship session.
Senior Pastor, School Road branch, Deeper Life Bible Church in Port Harcourt, Mr James Ata, said his branch received directive from the headquarters in Lagos to adopt effective distancing pattern.
“We resolved to split into three worship sessions instead of the normal combined single service formation usually observed during Sunday services,” Ata said.
However, other churches with large congregation ended up conducting over eight worship sessions on hourly schedule.
The Omega Power Ministries (OPM), Redeemed Christian Church and others were amongst churches that hosted several sessions to be able to accommodate as much worshippers as possible.
In Ilorin, Kwara State, St. Barnabas’ Cathedral, African Church Cathedral and Cherubim and Seraphim (C&S) services did not hold.
The three C&S churches along Muritala Road in Ilorin were deserted as nobody turned up for service.
Also at the nearby St. Barnabas Cathedral, a young clergy said the Bishop had directed all members to pray in their various homes for God to end the pandemic.
Some of the closed churches included the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Winners Chapel (LFC) on Ajase Ipo Road, as well as Calvary Baptist Church at Gaa-Akanbi area.
However, there were home cell fellowships at few houses comprising of not more than 10 persons.
Some churches in Asaba, Delta State, conducted services but complied with the global standards of social distancing, regular hand wash with water and soap and application of alcohol based sanitisers.
In some of the churches, worshippers were made to wash their hands with soap and running water before being counted into auditorium to ensure that people inside do not exceed 50 with social distancing also observed.
At Catholic Church of Assumption in Umuagu area of the city, church officials applied alcohol-based sanitisers on the hand of every worshipper before he/she was allowed in.
On a normal Sunday, four masses were conducted with three in the morning and one in the evening, but as at 11.15am, ten masses had been conducted with more to come.
•Plateau residents hold family services
Security agencies, paraded the streets of Jos to enforce the stay-at-home and other precautionary measures. Although, majority of residents held religious services in their homes, in the few churches that were open for worshipers, security officials visited to ensure that the numbers were not more than 50 with two meters social distancing kept in adherence to government directive. Commercial vehicles tricycles were also under cheeks to ensure they were not overloaded.
Daily Sun visited the Ahmadu Bello Way Jos, where at the popular Sunday market, it was observed that traders were wandering around the market guarding their shops against burglers and persons who may want to take advantage of the partial lock-down to steal.
Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang, expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance by citizens to precautionary measures demanded by the government.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Ubah Gabriel said there was total compliance. He said the Police was determined to ensure full enforcement of the directive and that defaulters would be arrested and prosecuted.
•Awka Anglican diocese suspends activities
Archbishop, Province of the Niger, Anglican Communion and Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Revd Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, has announced the suspension of church activities in the diocese.
The cleric said the dioceses had resolved to abide by directives given by the Anambra State government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other relevant authorities which were targeted at ensuring that the coronavirus disease does not spread.
Meanwhile, wife of the state governor, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, has called on mothers in the Catholic Church to guard their families against the dreaded coronavirus disease.
•Cast your burdens on God
A cleric, Rev. Tajan Moltok, has urged Nigerians to cast their burdens on God, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the world.
Moltok of the Shepherd House Assembly International, Jos, said in his sermon that while following personal and respiratory hygiene against the Virus, there was the need to also commit every health challenge to the hands of God.
The sermon delivered by the Jos resident pastor of the church was entitled: ‘In times like this.’
“We must draw near to God and those who have yet to receive Christ as their Lord and personal savior should do so.
“Do not be afraid; everything suggests fear, because of the alarming media reports on the death rate over Coronavirus and the apprehension in the entire world.
“We must have faith in God if we must obtain good result. Faith is the ability to trust God beyond doubt,” he said.
Moltok also urged the congregation to maintain positive confession “because those who put their trust in God are like Mount Zion”, adding that they should not give up in any difficult circumstance but lean on God.
•Bishop of Yola diocese delivers Sunday sermon online
Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, Bishop Dami Mamza has delivered Sunday sermon online, as part of measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
Mamza, who is the state Chairman of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), delivered the Holy Mass sermon through his tweeter handle and Facebook account on Sunday in Yola.
He said the development was to comply with government’s directives and that of the association to stay at home and observe social distancing.
The clergy said Psalm 23 should be a source of consolation to all Christians in the state at this trying times.
“The Coronavirus curse to the world is no longer news to everyone because the whole nation is in difficult situation.
“Nobody thought the spread of the disease will be devastating when it started in far away China, as the whole nation is now being brought to its knees.
“Christians worldwide should be reminded that the lesson to be learnt in this hard time is that everybody has a responsibility toward God and one another, and God is in control and He knows everything, why and how long the virus will last,” he said.
Mamza said that this is not a time to panic but a time to take courage and intensify prayers, saying: “we are in a war situation and with God we will win the battle”.
He called on Christians to remain calm, explaining that the weapon of Coronavirus shall never prosper as the Lord will fight the virus for us.
The clergy admonished Faithfuls to pray in their respective homes as God is there and God could never be found in a church or building alone but is everywhere with them.
“Christians should not panic or feel depressed but be obedient by staying at home and obey directives by government and health experts as God will heal the nation, state and families as a whole,” he prayed.