By. Julius Adiga & Damba Rogers
Following the presidential directive which banned public gatherings across the country as a preventive measure against the spread of Coronavirus yesterday, this has now caused panic with premature closure of schools and this has forced the new archbishop of the church of Uganda His Grace Stephen Kazimba Mugalu to challenge fellow clergy on innovative ways of preaching the gospel.
In a press release sent to various media houses from the newly elect archbishop of the church of Uganda, His Grace Dr. Kazimba Mugalu, describes the directive as, He did this as a father who advises his children on the best way we can stay safe and healthy.
This decision will have a big impact on how we live and worship as Christians for the next few weeks, and I want to provide some additional guidance to what our President has shared. While it will be very difficult for us to not gather together, we stand with His Excellency in this decision because it will help save lives. As Christians and as the church, we value life and support all efforts to promote life. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10)
In my Charge I encouraged the church to develop new tools for ministry and outreach, including radio, television, and social media. I never expected the need for these new tools to come so quickly. But, here we are. A great evangelist once said, “Your setback can be a setup for our comeback.”
As I shared in last week’s pastoral letter, I want to begin by reminding you of Jesus’ command to not be anxious. In Lamentations 3.21-23, the Bible says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18.18)
People have asked me, “If we can’t meet for worship in church on Sundays and mid-week, how will we have church?” Yes, it will be hard to not meet together on Sundays, but we should be assured of Jesus’ words, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18.18)
- I have already encouraged Home Cells in my Charge and they are the ideal place for Sunday worship to take place. Some cells may need to sub-divide so they are no more than 10 people. But, Sunday worship can take place with home cells in homes, observing, of course, the appropriate behaviours of not shaking hands or hugging and keeping at least one metre of distance between you and others. If you’re sick, please stay home.
- I am calling on all husbands and fathers to step up and take responsibility for leading your families in daily home prayers and in Sunday worship. The Family is the smallest church, and every home needs its “Family Altar.”
- Some churches have developed the capacity for online streaming of worship services. I call on you to expand that capacity for also broadcasting services without the presence of a congregation. Please also share with your diocese and the provincial office the times and online address for these broadcasts, so others can benefit.
On most of the roads moving out of Kampala today, there is heavy traffic jam, students wearing their school uniforms carrying heavy bags, mattresses heading home for un abrupt four weeks holiday.
Not schools, but even religious places have been asked to stop conducting prayers to avoid spreading the virus just in case its among the Ugandan population.
However, the executive director Uganda Virus Research Institute Dr. Potiano Calebu reveals that out of the 62 suspected cases of COVID 19 have tested negative but cautions the general public to be on high alert.
Speaking to health reporter in Kampala, Dr. Potiano says, Uganda Virus Research Institute is more than ready to test all the samples as they come in given the capacity that the research institute has.
He further notes that they will also carry out studies to find out how dangerous people living with HIV/AIDS among others with chronic diseases are affected when attacked by COVID 19.
However, the senior presidential advisor on epidemics, Dr, Monica Musenero advises the general public to stop using hankies, non-recommended nose masks and resort to using disposable tissues.
Musenero adds that hankies keep viruses which are not the same case with disposable tissues.
Meanwhile, sections of the public are strongly criticizing the presidential directive on grounds that they were not necessary since the country has not yet registered any case.
Uganda is the only country in the EAC region which has not yet registered a positive case of COVID 19.