The head of Liberia Council of Churches, Bishop Kortu Brown, says Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue, and Justice Minister Musa Dean have both apologized to the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) on behalf of the government for the embarrassment caused churches on Sunday, March 22, 2020, during their regular services following the late-night declaration from Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah.
It may be recalled that on Sunday while Christians were preparing to go for regular worship, officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) went around asking churches to shut down services in adherence to the declaration by the Ministry of Health amid the raging Coronavirus.
“Regrettably on Sunday morning, March 22, 2020, armed police were seen at many churches enforcing a mandate from the Minister of Health ordering the immediate closure of churches. As a result of the police action, many services were disrupted. This was amazing and shocking!” he said.
The LCC head said the government through the two officials lamented the issue and extended an apology to the churches for whatever the police did that was unorthodox. In a previous publication, this paper, the Daily Observer, reported Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue’s encounter with the Faith Chapel Evangelistic Ministry headed by Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson. Sudue and his men had gone to enforce the order by the Health Ministry, but Senator Johnson responded that he (Sudue) was unduly disrupting his church service without any further notice.
Bishop Brown said the meeting was held in Paynesville City with heads of churches and leaders, the government, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in attendance to discuss the church’s role in preventing the COVID-19 virus.
He disclosed that the meeting highlighted the severity of the COVID-19 and the threats it poses to the citizenry as well as the critical role of the church in combating the pandemic.
Bishop Brown said at the meeting it was agreed given the confirmed cases by the MOH and NPHIL that churches will not shut down services but will be encouraged to carry out multiple services, observe social distancing and keep all health protocols.
He said the LCC and the government concluded that the church will have a massive awareness campaign and organize fast and prayers to begin on March 25-27, 2020.
Bishop Brown said following a successful meeting with the President of Liberia that was highly commended, heads of churches disseminated the results of the meeting to their various congregations admonishing them to fully comply with all recommended health protocols.
Bishop Brown “in light of this very unfortunate and alarming incident on Sunday, March 22, 2020, Church leaders met on Monday, March 23, 2020, at an emergency called a meeting that LCC expressed gross dissatisfaction of the actions of elements of the police against peaceful worshippers who were observing the recommended health protocols.”
He said the church also recommended that communication to the churches be channeled through the leadership of the LCC before actions are taken.
Bishop Brown in a release said the immediate closure of churches was not agreed upon during the meeting with the President and the Minister of Health; however, he noted that the church was cognizant of the consequences of the deadly COVID-19 and is in support of every action that will ensure public safety.
He said the churches are looking forward to continuing engagement with the government of Liberia in ensuring public safety, including avoidance of large gatherings at the churches.
“Meanwhile, we call on all churches and Liberians, in general, to continue to observe the preventive measures. We, therefore, encourage all churches and the people of Liberia to continue to pray for the safety and wellbeing of the country,” Bishop Brown said.