As members of the religious community in Liberia have resumed in-person worship amid the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a Liberian clergyman has called on religious leaders to become proactive in engaging their members on the need to adhere to health protocols instituted by the government, to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Pastor Germane G. Getteh, the head clergyman of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Horton Avenue, central Monrovia, made the call recently in Gbarnga during a conference held by the Faith and Justice Network of Liberia (FJN).
The FJN conference brought together pastors, imams, women’s advocates, and youth leaders to discuss the religious community’s continued involvement toward the fight of the pandemic.
When COVID-19 broke out in March 2020, the Government of Liberia suspended all religious activities as a means of containing the spread of the virus. But with the persistent appeal from the religious leaders for relaxation of restrictions, President George M. Weah in June gave the go-ahead to members of religious groups to resume normal worship activities. But it has been observed that the required health protocols are not being adhered to by some members of religious groups.
Pastor Getteh noted that the health restrictions are not strange but something that can be found in the Holy Scripture and, as such, it was important that people take the issue seriously if the country must overcome the pandemic.
Liberia’s cases of COVID-19 continue to increase as the current update shows a 1,207 confirmed rate of infection.
He said with the level of increase in cases, the religious leaders need to stand firmly with the government to put an end to the deadly coronavirus.
According to him, the religious community is the largest community that is regularly meeting in groups during this outbreak and must, therefore, work harder to spread messages of the virus.
He recalled the scripture in Numbers Chapter 5 verses 2-4 where God spoke through Moses to the children of Israel to put out of the camp anyone that is sick to avoid people from being infected.
“The book of Leviticus Chapter 13 verse 45 talks about covering the upper lip (your mouth) when you are sick,” he added.
He further said during those days, sick people were observed for seven days and afterwards checked, and if the sickness persists, the person is quarantined for an additional seven days.
He warned religious leaders to desist from doubting the existence of the virus and work with the government by sensitizing members of their congregations.
At the beginning of the lockdown in April, state security forces came in contact with church groups that were violating the health protocols. It can be recalled that in Margibi County some were severely beaten and wounded in the process.
“Every government is instituted among men by God and, as such, men are to obey and submit to their leaders,” he noted.
He encouraged religious leaders to use at least 10 minutes of their sermon time to tell their members about COVID-19.
Rebecca Tarpleh, General-Secretary of the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL), said it is about time for the Church to be effective and unite toward the fight against the virus.
Mrs. Tarpleh said church leaders need to continue telling their members about washing hands, covering the mouth and nose, among others.