Pastor Chris Okotie, the Senior Pastor of the Household of God Church, has kicked against the new guidelines issued by the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN, for the reopening of churches.
On Thursday, May 28, the president of CAN, Reverend Samson Ayokunle, released a statement, saying the government had given the Christian Association the go-ahead to draw up guidelines for worship in compliance with the COVID-19 containment requirements and submit it for approval. Part of the guidelines as stated in his statement includes social distancing, washing of hands, checking of temperatures among others
“The temperature of every worshipper must be taken before admission into the church auditorium and people with high temperature should not be allowed into the church, but advised to go and see their doctors.
Every worshipper must wear face mask. Social distancing should be observed in the sitting arrangement with one meter gap between two worshippers. One and a half hour service is enough for a start. There should be a gap of 25 or 30 minutes between one service and another where there are multiple services to avoid crowd.
Churches can make use of classrooms and multipurpose halls for services where available, especially in big churches in order to accommodate more worshippers at a go. Closed circuit TV screens and speakers can be used for those who are not inside the main auditorium.
Handshaking and hugging should be avoided before, during and after the service. Prayers should be offered to God for a speedy end of COVID-19 and quick recovery of all that are afflicted by the pandemic. Prayers should also be offered for the frontline workers for divine protection.
The CAN chapter in each state and local government should constitute a committee together with law enforcement agencies in their areas to enforce full compliance. Such civilian compliance officials should be given backing by the governments to apprehend those who contravene the worship regulations and hand them over to law enforcement agents.
Churches observing Holy Communion service should use separate cup for each participant.”
Reacting to the new guidelines, Okotie in a statement released on Sunday, May 31, said it is unbiblical to follow such rules in the house of God. According to him, the church and Christians cannot bow to the idol called Coronavirus.
“It is bereft of any authority to speak on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ. Arrayed in Episcopalian vestments, they are the modern-day Pharisees who arrogate divine honors to themselves.
They have a form of godliness and yet hobnob Nicodemusly with enemies of the Lord Jesus. The true ministers of the sanctuary must recognize CAN’s treachery and reprehensible Phariseeism. That which a man spits against heaven shall fall back upon his face. We shall not bow to the idol called coronavirus. Jesus is Lord” he said
The clergyman added that no true minister of God would support such guidelines.
“Healing is fundamental to the redemptive work of Jesus. To allow the idol of coronavirus to determine the scope of congregational worship in the house of God is an abomination of gargantuan proportions,” he said.
No true minister of the gospel will succumb to such travesty of the faith. This is a summary of my objections. I have sent this message hoping that you would respond as one who bears the burden of the cross of Jesus.
I have restrained myself from making a public outcry of this desecration and profanation out of respect for you and the CAN hierarchy. But be assured that this position is transient.” he stated
Recall that three weeks ago, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy, also slammed his fellow clergymen for agreeing with Federal government to regulate church activities due to the pandemic.