As the world gradually ease the restrictions and ban on social gatherings, the fight against COVID-19 needs to go on. It is obvious the virus has come to stay with us, since the last patient cannot be traced. The virus will be subsequently handled like HIV/AIDS, EBOLA, SPANISH FLU, Tuberculosis, Polio and other popular health-related diseases. Just recently, Donald Trump, orders immediate reopening of churches and mosques in the USA, and other countries will be following suite.
Ghana is not an exception as the country waits for the ban lifting address from the President on Sunday, 31st May, 2020. In as much as it has become a great concern to medical practitioners, the restrictions and bans will definitely be lifted. So the question is how can we live with the virus? This article outlines five (5) preventive measures the faith-based organizations especially churches can employ to peacefully worship and enjoy church services when the ban is lifted. Below are the 5 measures:
- One Man-One Microphone
As known in churches, many speakers, praises and worship leaders tend to use the same microphone for different sessions during service. When the same microphone is used by many members and leaders during church service, the tendency of spreading the virus is high. Research shows that the saliva glands below the tongue always release saliva as the tongue moves. The probability of firing saliva on the microphone is very high when speaking or singing with the microphone. The advice is that, immediately services are over, all foams covering the microphones should be thoroughly washed and dried before the next service. This measure calls for the purchases of more microphones in churches to facilitate the one man- one microphone measure. In cases where there are shortages of microphone, there should be regular cleaning of microphones with a sanitizer.
- Temperature Checks
Another measure to be put in place by all churches is the purchases of thermometer gun to check the temperature of all members before entering the church auditorium. This is to ensure that members with high temperatures are easily identified. I have seen many Christians who go to church with high temperatures with the faith that he or she will be healed. For us to fight the COVID-19, churches need to be proactive in identifying suspected cases via the thermometer gun in order to identify people with high temperatures before they enter the auditorium. If the faith of the leaders is very high and thinks they can pray to heal the suspected patient after identifying high temperature, the leaders can take that member to the pastor’s office for that spiritual exercise, but not the auditorium. At least, only the pastor will be infected if God delays, or the pastor becomes stubborn.
- Washing of hands with soap / Using of hand sanitizers
This has been the message from the government, way from the inception of the virus. I think this need to continue in churches. Veronica buckets with water and liquid soaps can be placed at the entrance of every church. The use of sanitizers can be encouraged in the absence of running water and soap. Churches should be able to provide hand sanitizers or running water with liquid soap for members. I believe this measure will encourage Christians to go to church early in order to go through this measure. Many Christians enjoy going to church late and it has become a habitual norm for late-comers. Washing of hands or using of hand sanitizers should be mandatory in all churches.
- Wearing of Face Masks
I believe wearing of face masks will bring out the fashion sense in many Christians. I know people who will match their dresses to face masks. Also, I know people who care less about fashion and will dress in rainbow colours with their face masks. That’s not bad. The most important thing is the face mask, whether it matches your dress or not. All church members should wear face masks before entering the church auditorium. In cases where a leader will be speaking or choristers ministering songs, they can take off the face mask to enhance the microphone sound. Immediately done leading, they can wear their face masks back. But all members should be in face masks when among the congregation to help prevent the spread.
- Social Distancing
Finally, there should be social distancing during church services. Sitting arrangements within congregations should be enhanced with the social distancing protocols. In cases of smaller church auditoriums, chairs can be arranged outside the auditorium to take care of the high numbers. Furthermore, second, third and even fourth services can be arranged to prevent overcrowding in auditoriums. In cases where a huge number of chorister will be ministering, the number of choristers in a song ministration should be reduced to enhance the social distancing protocols. Choristers can minister in batches. The church doesn’t really need more than 20 choristers on stage before enjoying the song.
Cell and small group meetings should be encouraged during weekday services to minimize excessive overcrowding meetings in the main church auditoriums. After all, Christ worked with families and he can work with small groups and meeting cells. When the church implements this measure, it will be obvious that Sundays are likely to be the meeting day in the church auditoriums.
In all, these measures will enhance church services during this pandemic as we protect ourselves from the virus. I believe this pandemic is a blessing in disguise which will improve our hygienic conditions and way of life. God will listen to our prayers when we protect each other by protecting ourselves.