President of Malawi Union of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church Pastor Frackson Kuyama has said no church function can supersede life. Pastor Kuyama made the remarks an exclusive interview on Friday. He was reacting to a move by State President Peter Mutharika to declare Malawi a state of disaster in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the globe.
President Mutharika said the new measures to come into force on Monday, March 23; include a restriction of public gatherings of more than 100 people and closure of all schools, colleges and universities. These restrictions apply to all gatherings including weddings, funerals, church, congregations, rallies, government meetings. He emphasized that the national security apparatus has been ordered into action to enforce the restrictions.
In his remarks, Pastor Kuyama said the declaration of national disaster for coronavirus—dubbed COVID-19— was a welcome development. “As a church, we commend the [State] President for the move, aimed at saving lives more than anything else. This is in line with the church’s mission; to serve and save souls. “As a matter of fact, I’m just coming from a meeting with heads of affiliate conferences in the country where we have agreed that some of the church functions can be suspended until the situation improves. We can’t take risks in the name of following the order of worship.”
Pastor Kuyama was however quick to say that the declaration by President Mutharika has not taken the church by surprise, per se. “No, not really. The move by government has not disrupted our order of worship, per se. In fact, the church can always do with the already existing structures it had had since time immemorial. I am urging church leaders to take advantage of the cluster meetings called Jesus Ways that the church normally holds during weekdays within respective neighbourhoods,” he said. He also explained that through the church’s Health Ministries Department, measures were already put in place in line with World Health Organisation recommendations on how best to restrict the spread of the infection that continues to claim thousands of lives across the globe.
President Mutharika has also suspended hosting of international meetings and banned public servants from attending both regional and international meetings being hosted by affected countries.
The new measures also include a travel ban for foreign nationals from countries highly affected by coronavirus disease. However, Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries are exempted Meanwhile, Pastor Kuyama has since recommended the church’s faithful to closely follow Ministry of Health’s guidelines to best consolidate the national fight against the pandemic.
The best practices included self-isolation for those with suspected symptoms, suspending gatherings of more than 100 people and practicing hygiene at all places of worship, including in homes. He cited handshakes, baptisms and Holy Communion as some of the church functions that can be easily suspended in the wake of the deadly infection.
As of Sabbath eve, the coronavirus death toll across the globe was at 8778, with comfirmed cases at 209 839. The shocking news is that while it took about three months for the world to hit the first 100 000 confirmed cases since it first broke out in China in December; it took just 12 days to record the next 100 000 confirmed cases.
Prevention is therefore key to arresting the spread of the infection.
FATSANI GUNYA, CMC COMMUNICATIONS