-Shuts down congregational service, takes other stringent measures to ensure safety
The Liberia Annual Conference (LAC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) has issued a health advisory for its staff, partners and Liberians as large with its latest campaign being adopted to fight the pandemic—while imposing strict hygienic rules.
Liberia currently has two confirmed cases of the Corona-virus, otherwise COVID-19 with over 125 contacts, 23 of which are at high risk. The situation is becoming alarming that it has created widespread fear among the masses, prompting the Church to take the decision as a way of buttressing the national government’s efforts.
The Executive Committee of the LAC/UMC on Wednesday, March 17, 2020, convened an emergency meeting to consider measures to be taken in an effort to support the Government’s fight against the spread of this deadly virus. The Resident Bishop, Rev. Dr. Samuel J. Quire, Jr., constituted a task-force named “LAC/UMC –COVID-19- Task Force”, to coordinate the Church’s response efforts.
“We are equally concerned as the government on the report of confirmed cases of the Corona-virus (COVID-19) in the Country. Not only is this pronouncement scaring, but the reality that it’s fatal and has no cure, is even more worrisome and heartbreaking,” Bishop Quire said on Wednesday in a release.
According to the UMC head, the task-force primary objectives include information gathering and dissemination, advocacy, resource mobilization, interventions, and monitoring.
“This team is headed by the Conference Women President, Dr. Muriel V. Nelson, with the Chancellor Cllr. Powo C. Hilton of the LAC/UMC as Adviser,” he said.
“As cases of the coronavirus are reported in our country and around the world, the United Methodist Church is urging education, caution and common-sense — sharing a few basic guidelines to enable congregations and citizens/residents to find useful, relevant information to plan their course of action,” the Bishop said.
Concerning public health, the United Methodist Church is looking at the national health situation within its operation and is diverting its attention to building the resilience of the community and support partners in tackling the pandemic.
“The UMC is not alone in this battle. Other Churches and organizations are also involved, calling on their members to respect the basic rules that prevent contagion, such as frequently washing their hands and avoiding the sign of peace,” said the UMC Bishop.
“In the midst of this predicament, the Church strongly urges all Liberians and residents within our borders in general, and United Methodists in particular to take all required preventive measures for their safety and health,” Bishop Quire said, “While the Church is seeking God’s intervention, everyone is encouraged to abide by all protocols that are being put into place to prevent contact with the disease.”
According to the Methodist clergyman, Some of these everyday precautions focused on good hygiene measures are common sense — helpful to keep in mind.
The Bishop enumerated some of the routine precautionary measures that health authorities have pronounced.
Meanwhile, the Church has closed its Central Office for two weeks to observe the prevailing condition. All Church Services including funerals, marriages, Choir practices, bible studies, prayer meetings, etc. are all suspended for two (2) weeks; All United Methodists are encouraged to have services with their family at home and pray during this period.
The Church has therefore urged its members to listen to ELUM, 98.7, the United Methodist Radio, for information regarding the next steps.
Providence Baptist and the Lutheran Church have taken similar action by suspending congregational services for some weeks to observe the situation. Stringent measures including shutting down of church services have been taken in other African countries—Kenya and Nigeria being the latest countries to shut down church gathering.