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Post second wave proactive preparation for church reopening

Following the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Museveni declared a 42 days lockdown to curb the rate of infection in Uganda. Indeed this second wave swept the country ruthlessly living almost every Ugandan infected or closely affected by COVID-19.

The President lockdown all activities apart from groups gazetted as essential workers. Unfortunately, like in the first wave lockdown, churches where never considered in this category.

The good news is, after the 42 days of lockdown it was evident God had intervened and the infection and death rates had completely gone down. The results were compelling enough for the President to ease the 42 days lockdown by opening up several sectors among which included public/private transport at 50% capacity, allowed cross district travel, arcades and shopping malls that met the mandatory SOPs, among other sectors were allowed to operate.

Churches again and a few other sectors were given another 60 days lockdown as the situation was being monitored. But during these 60 days what proactive measures can the churches do in preparation for reopening?

Learning from the first wave lockdown, a team was commissioned that held discussions with the relevant authorities which resulted into the formulating of Worship Place SOPs. This was followed with training churches across the country in the worship place SOPs. It is evident the training greatly helped the churches, who knows, it could have been worse with the coming of the COVID-19 second wave.

A leaf can be borrowed from that successful preparation as we prepare for the reopening after the 60 days. The good thing during the training it was clear we were not training participants but Training of Trainers. From the training records a team of pastors over and above One hundred thousand were certified and equipped in Worship Place SOPs Training of Trainers curriculum. All these have Manuals and ready to conduct any training when called upon.

If all Pastors started now to conducted refresher training of the Worship Place SOPs, in groups of 10 -20 members of their congregations that would be wisdom.

If all Pastors started now to re-stock the necessary SOPs requirements like sanitizer, water cans, soap among others that would be wisdom.

If all Christian media; print, radio and television donated free air time for refresher sensitization training on Worship Place SOPs that would be wisdom.

If the churches Covid task force started discussions with the relevant government or health authorities to update or improve on the existing Worship Place SOPs that would be wisdom.

The President opened up the other sectors without mandatory vaccination, the only condition was putting in place the required SOPs. The churches should be accorded the same consideration.

But it is important to note that unlike the first Covid19 wave, this second wave come with the presence of vaccines. Notwithstanding the positive and negative reactions about the vaccines, the good side is all the vaccines on the market will be available in Uganda soon. The availability of these different vaccines gives people options to go for their preferred brand.

That said, the advocates of online services do not fully comprehend what it means to Shepherd God’s people. Shepherding can never be done online. It is a pity some people in authority have narrowed pastoring or shepherding to that single sermon preached on Sunday. What a misunderstanding! Preaching is a very small percentage in the shepherding process. When shepherding is suffocated you create fertile ground for society to decay.

If the trend continues like this we are likely to see an increase in domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies, high dependency on drugs among other society vices.

One cannot help but to observe that the missing link in the governments fight against Covid19 is the untapped power religious leaders have over their followers. This explains why government does not see religious leaders as essential workers.

Involving this category of persons as essential workers will re-enforce the fight against Covd19 more effectively like it was with HIV/AIDS.

The author is member of the Churches Covid19 Task Force


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