The head of Uganda’s Anglican Church Archbishop Stephen Samuel Kazimba Mugalu has spoken out on the decision by President Yoweri Museveni to reopen churches.
In his 20thCoronavirus address delivered September 20, President Museveni allowed places of worship to reopen.
But Museveni set the following conditions:
a. Individual prayers or confessions with priests or counseling with the necessary SOPs.
b. Prayers and fellowships whose numbers do not exceed 70 and by observing all the other SOPs.
c. Night prayers and transnights are not allowed.
d. The regular large gatherings of prayers and preachings of Sundays and Fridays will be considered at a later stage, depending on how the disease will be evolving; but the rule of the number of 70 and not more can be used on the Fridays and Sundays.
e. There should be no Sunday School for children.
Mugalu noted that the church was “longing for the day when we can all gather together in the same place at the same time.”
“But, we’re very, very grateful for this beginning of allowing 70 people at a time to gather together in a socially distanced way to offer prayers and worship to the Lord.”
He also announced dates for a thanksgiving service to express gratitude to God for the reopening.
“Early on in the lockdown, I promised that when churches re-opened for public worship that we would have a general Thanksgiving to the Lord for keeping us and bringing us this far,” said Mugalu.
“I, therefore, invite every congregation in the Church of Uganda to observe a Thanksgiving on Sunday, 4th October. If you have been setting aside your offering and keeping it until this day of Thanksgiving, it is now here.”
WHAT ELSE DID ARCHBISHOP KAZIMBA MUGALU SAY ON CHURCH REOPENING?
On allowing only 70 congregants per service/mass…
Many are asking, “How is this going to work?” Let me offer three practical steps:
In the early church, the Book of Acts summarizes how the Apostles, who were the first church leaders, conducted their ministry.
It says, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5.42) It is clear that the pattern for worship in the early church was large group public worship in the temple courts, and, at the same time, worship at home.
In the Church of Uganda, we’ve been very good at congregational worship, but not as good at worship at home. So, the Lord sent us on lockdown for six months to strengthen our worship at home. Now, slowly by slowly, corporate worship is being re-introduced. But, Worship at Home should also continue. The early church did both, and so should we!
1. Every Bishop and Diocesan Office has received a copy of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda’s guidelines for resuming public worship, along with a training format to use in training all church leaders. Make sure your local church’s leadership has been trained in implementing all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for churches. This includes how to support children and children’s ministry.
For larger congregations, however, it will be impossible for the entire congregation to be able to gather in different groups of 70 people for a corporate worship service. My own Cathedral, for example, averages 4,000 people on a Sunday spread across three different services. To cater for all 4000 people in groups of 70, we would need to schedule 57 different worship services, which is simply not practical.
More suggestions on reopening…
a) We appeal to the government to reconsider the guidelines and offer maximum seating based on the number of square metres in the worship space rather than a fixed number of people, regardless of the size of the room.
b) We also appeal to the government to allow outdoor gatherings for worship with all appropriate SOPs in place.
We also urge the continuation of all media-based worship services, whether by radio, TV, Facebook, YouTube, or video conferencing, and for families to utilize them in their household routine of Worship at Home.
a) Once again, we extend our deepest appreciation to the media houses for their support in broadcasting worship services into almost every home in the country. We appeal now for your continued weekly support because we still need you.
b) Worship from Home is part of our “new normal.” If you’re concerned about gathering with others for public worship, please avail yourself of worship opportunities at home through media-based worship services. If your local congregation is so big that not everyone can gather in groups of 70 on a Sunday, then take advantage of the many media-based worship services available.
c) Please also be aware that there are a number of children’s worship services being offered through different media, so make sure your children have the opportunity to engage with media-based children’s worship.
d) For those who are able to gather at churches for public worship, please continue to also Worship from Home… because the Bible urges us to do both. It says, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5.42)