Liberia: Worshippers Express Delight in Opening of Churches amid Nearly Two Months of Shutdown
Paynesville – Despite the rejection by several major religious denominations in Liberia of President George Weah’s pronouncement to reopen churches and mosques, several churches on Sunday, May 17 opened for the first time in nearly two months.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
Following the President’s lifting of the ban on worship services, major churches including the Catholic Arch Diocese of Monrovia, the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches in separate statements issued, called on their members to put a hold on mass worship services amid the increase of COVID-19 cases in Liberia.
However, some Churches welcome the lifting of the ban and for the first time in almost 60 days held worships services.
FrontPage Africa visited several Churches within Paynesville where Church leaders and members expressed happiness in coming together again to worship their God.
Pastor Sarah Gueh, an associate Pastor of the Living Stream Tabernacle- River of Life Church in GSA Road welcomes the Government’s decision but called on the churches to put in place all preventive measures to ensure the safety of their members.
“I think it is a very good decision for the Government to open Churches and I think that the churches should just put all of the measures in place. Because if the market places can be open, and there is no safety measure in the market places, I think the church should also open,” Pastor Gueh said.
Speaking further, she explained that her Church has instituted several measures including the mandatory hand washing, keeping social distancing and the wearing of mouth and nose masks or face shield before entering the Church.
Temperature of every member can also be measured, she added.
President Weah, in a statement announcing the lifting of the ban on worship services, called on every church and mosque to usher in 25 percent of their members for each worship service.
Responding to how the Church is implementing the 25 percent per service mandate given by the President, Pastor Gueh said instead of the regular one service prior to the ban, the Church is now conducting two services to reduce the crowd.
“We are doing two services. We used to do one but it is two now. We packed most of our chairs. Since we have contacts of most of our members, we tell them which service to come to. And if they can’t attend any of the two, we advise that they watch them on line.”
“I think it is a very good decision for the Government to open Churches and I think that the churches should just put all of the measures in place. Because if the market places can be open, and there is no safety measure in the market places, I think the church should also open.”Pastor Sarah Gueh, Associate Pastor of the Living Stream Tabernacle- River of Life of Church, GSA Road
Also speaking, Pastor Adie Cletus of Winners’ Chapel International, GSA Road branch said the President’s decision to reopen Churches was the right step in the right direction.
“I think the Government’s decision is good and it is the right step in the right direction. The reason is that though we may not be able to stop end-time prophecy like what we are facing now, the coronavirus, God has also promised us in His word that the Church which is Zion, is a place of refuge for the afflicted,” Pastor Cletus declared.
Responding to a question on whether the opening of Churches was not premature given the increase of COVID-19 cases in Liberia, Pastor Cletus said the decision to open was not made under duress and as God’s people, it was right to gather and worship God all times.
However, in order to stay safe, he said all safety measure are being adhere to and the Church, in order to meet up with the 25 percent pronouncement, has reduced the number of seating capacity.
“Well, opening the church is not under duress for people to come, if you don’t have the faith and you don’t think the place is safe for you, you don’t come. But here, we put in preventive measures,” he noted.
“The church has almost a thousand plus membership. But we only brought out 200 chairs which is less than 25 percent. We ask the parents not to bring the children for now. We have the facemasks, hand washing drum and the thermometer to take the temperature.”
He lauded the Government’s effort in the fight against COVID-19, adding, “If the Government was not working, we might not be here.”
“I think the Government’s decision is good and it is the right step in the right direction. The reason is that though we may not be able to stop end-time prophecy like what we are facing now, the coronavirus, God has also promised us in His word that the Church which is Zion, is a place of refuge for the afflicted.”Pastor Adie Cletus of Winners’ Chapel International, GSA Road branch
Meanwhile FrontPage Africa, also spoke with several Church members who welcome the decision to resume worship services.
James Elijah Robinson, Jr., a member if the Winners’ Chapel said the Church is where he finds peace and happiness, and staying away made him felt abnormal.
“It is joyful to be in the house of the lord to praise Him. Coming back today and meeting my brothers and sisters, and none of us have contracted this virus is something to be happy over. This is where we find peace and get the understanding of the word and get courage to do things that others can’t do,” a delighted Robinson said.
He continues: “Whenever we come back to this place our mind begin to open up. Our intellects sharpen and our minds begin to understand things that we never used to understand.”
“We are reawaken that now we are living because when I was out of this place, I felt that life was no more worthy for me. I feel like this is my office so I have to work and fulfill what God sent me on earth for. Out of the church I have no good life but coming back, I feel like my life has become whole again.”
Also speaking, Priscila M. Solo of the Living Stream Tabernacle said the Government was constrained to open Churches, but welcome the decision and called members to adhere to all of the health protocols to ensure they are safe.