General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, yesterday said he, his wife and grandchildren would stay away from church services in Lagos in line with COVID-19 prevention protocols.
He said he would continue preaching online.
Adeboye backed the government’s protocol on reopening of worship centres.
He told members to resume worship from Sunday in places where the law permitted them to do so.
Speaking during a service aired on Dove Television, he said: “We want to thank the Almighty God that some of us will begin to gather again as from Sunday.
“I believe that some of you are already gathering in some parts of the world and we believe that you will now begin to enjoy the power of corporate prayers once again.
“But as you gather together in all those places where you are free to gather, please remember those of us who cannot gather with you yet.
“People like me and my wife cannot gather with you in Lagos because we are over 65 years of age and my grandchildren cannot gather with you yet because they are under 15 years of age.
“So, remember us in prayers, so that very soon, we will be able to join you,” he said.
He urged worshippers to continue to pray for the end of the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Also on Sunday, Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Ignatius Kaigama, noted that the guidelines for worship centres were “rigid”.
In his homily at the Pro-Cathedral, Abuja, he said the Eucharist is the most important treasure that Jesus bequeathed to the Church, and that Catholics were anxious to be allowed back to the communal celebration of the mass.
“Happily, we can do so today (yesterday) following rigid guidelines to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus,” he said.
He urged worshippers to pray for the world in these troubled times.
“May our participation in the Eucharist bring to each one of us inner transformation; healing for those who are ill and through our charitable actions bring hope to those who lack the basic necessities of life,” Kaigama added.
Also on Sunday, the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos restated its commitment to the protocols on worship centre reopening.
Director of Social Communications Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu said in a statement that the church was preparing towards reopening in line with social distancing and hygiene protocols.
On the Lagos State Government’s advisory that those above 65 should not attend churches, he said many of them were healthy.
“As for me, these restrictions should be for those with underlying health conditions,” Godonu said.
More churches on Sunday opened for service in Kwara State in full compliance with the protocols.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Implementation Compliance Committee Chairman, Shina Ibiyemi, said: “There was great compliance in our discoveries in the areas of social distancing, availability and use of an infrared thermometer, availability of facemasks in various churches, provision of running water, hand sanitisers and enough ventilation.
“The decency, compliance and cooperation of the clergymen are unquantifiable. We got satisfactory vis-a-vis excellent cooperation of most churches visited.”
The Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaimon Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla, said mosques would remain closed.
“The mosque should still be closed because the number of index cases is still on the rise. They should not open Mosques for now.
“The government should not rush to open religious centres since the reason for their closure has not been defeated,” he said.
The Federal Government on June 2 said places of worship must comply with all aspects of non-pharmaceutical interventions required to protect the public from COVID-19.
“Volunteers should be limited to exact numbers needed and none of the volunteers should have underlying medical conditions or be above the age of 55 years,” the PTF said.
Lagos State said religious organisations would be required to conduct their services under strict guidelines when they resume on June 19 (for Muslims) and June 21 (for Christians).
“We will be advising very strongly that persons below the age of 15…should be excused from the places of worship, while citizens above the age of 65 should also not be allowed into these places of worship,” Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said.