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It was an atmosphere of wild jubilation and excitement as Churches in Lagos State were declared open for Service on Sunday August 9, 2020 following the permission of the state governor to release religious houses for open but controlled activities after over four months of closure. The governor in his latest update has granted Christians and Muslims permission to worship their God.

All religious centres have been placed under lock and key at the break out of the global Covid -19 global pandemic since April 2020.

Preparations have been all over the church premises as workers and members are also warming up for the great return.

Many of the Churches are now wearing new looks, well painted while some others also carry giant banners welcoming worshipers into their premises.

Pastor Gbemiga Fadipe of Christ Our Saviour Bible Church, Ipaja in a brief chat with PTL News said all hands were on deck to receive worshippers into his Church Service starting from 8 am noting that the service will not be long but short so that there would be opportunity to hold second service for those who might not come early for the first service.

In the same vein, all is also ready at Emmanuel Apostolic Church headquarters at Ijesatedo where Rev. Mike Oluwatuyi presides as General Overseer. He said the Church doors would be open for the regular members as opportunities are also available for those who have identified with them online to join them if they live around or have access to the headquarters.

Emmanuel Apostolic Church has started a Seven Sunday Special Service at the Church headquarters, and this would be the second in the series.

The city of Lagos has come live again as Christians, Church Workers and Leaders were seen moving from one area of the city to the other.

Meanwhile, many of the Churches are still continuing with their online services via video, You Tuve, Facebook and Instagram.

In a similar development, the General Overseer of Gospel Pentecostal Assembly, Rev. David Adewale Owolabi has called on Church members and ministers to comply with the safety rules set by the government.

In a special release received by PTL News, the General Overseer noted that a special notice of NO MASK NO ENTRY should be placed in the Church entrance.

Other conditions expected to be met are “Placement of running water and hand sanitiser at the entry gate; the use of infra red thermometer to gauge the temperature of all worshippers; arrangement of the seats taking into cognance the social distance rule of the government; the use of mic-stand to host the microphone or allocation of microphones to each choir members. All the microphones used are to be sanitised after use.

The statement also added that “Ushers should use offering bags to collect offerings to avoid contacts, and the counting of offerings should be done by the use of hand gloves, as the service should be dedicated to thanksgiving.

“The service of 9th August should be praise and thanksgiving. Let us give thanks for preservation of life and souls despite the ravaging disease,” Rev. Owolabi directed.

Meanwhile, Sunday 16th August has been dedicated to mark the annual Convention of the Church. Concerning this, Pastors have been advised to hold early morning service in all the branches, as all Pastors and Local Council members are to meet at the Dopemu headquarters for the convention service at at 9.00am.

It is also the same story at 8, Taiwo Adewole Street, Abule Egba at the headquarters of Christ Apostolic Church, Multiplication District presided over by Pastor Peter Ajagunna. The service starts at 9am.

According to government’s directive, churches have been advised not to hold long services as Church services can be broken into parts and segments.

Once again, below are some of the specific conditions to be met for a Church to prove it’s ready for service, only on Sundays for now.
• Only regular services/gatherings are permitted to hold. Night vigils and other non-regular programmes remain prohibited until further notice.
• Attendees above 65 years are strongly discouraged from attending worship services.
• Consider holding services and gatherings in large, well-ventilated areas or outdoors, as circumstances and faith tradition allow.
• No face mask, no entry policy, must be maintained throughout the duration of the services.
• Regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities must be carried out to maintain clean and hygienic environments before and after every service.
• Appropriate screening equipment for COVID-19 symptoms such as a contactless temperature check must be available for entrants into the facility.
• It is mandatory to provide hand-washing facilities and sanitizers at the entry and exit point of the premises.
• National emergency response phone lines must be displayed prominently on the premises.
• Handshakes, hugs and high fives are not permitted at services or gatherings and this should be emphasized by displaying appropriate signs prominently.
• The use of stationary collection boxes and electronic methods for collection of the offering must be encouraged.
• The flow of human traffic in and out of these places of worship must be conducted in an organized and orderly manner.
The Governor urged Lagosians to fully comply with the measures outlined in the new regulations, stressing that Lagos State Safety Commission has a statutory responsibility to monitor the activities and operations of all organizations and worship centres that have been permitted to re-open.
Meanwhile, Churches have been perfecting their preparations to meet the conditions listed by the State government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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Julius Adegunna, a writer, and publisher of good news and reports. He is also a trainer in Writing and Publishing, a Media Consultant and an Entrepreneur. A 1987 Graduate of International Relations of the University of Ife, (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) with Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations, and Master in Communication Studies of Lagos State University. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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