Chris Okotie, the pastor of the Household of God Church, says the proposed guidelines by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for reopening of churches are “unbiblical”.
Like mosques, churches have remained closed in several states across the country for weeks as part of measures to combat spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
But according to The Sun, CAN had last Thursday said it released a 10-point guideline to be presented to the federal government for approval.
Samson Ayokunle, CAN president, said the guidelines, drafted in compliance with the government’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19, would determine the operations of churches when they reopen.
The guidelines, among others, propose that churches should strictly observe social distancing during services.
“Every worshipper must wear face mask. Social distancing should be observed in the sitting arrangement with one meter gap between two worshippers. One and a half hour service is enough for a start. There should be a gap of 25 or 30 minutes between one service and another where there are multiple services to avoid crowd,” Ayokunle had said.
In his reaction, Okotie, in a statement on Sunday, wondered why CAN would allow the coronavirus pandemic to determine the scope of worship in churches.
“Greetings. I am Rev Chris Okotie. I called earlier to discuss a report in today’s Sun Newspaper in which CAN recommended guide lines for the Opening of Churches. Social distancing in the Church of Jesus Christ is tantamount to blasphemous infidelity and an impeachment of the integrity of the word of God,” he said.
The clergyman said such directives undermine the divine healing characteristic for which the church is known for.
He went on to call on CAN to reconsider its position, adding that no true minister of God would support such initiative.
“Healing is fundamental to the redemptive work of Jesus. To allow the idol of coronavirus to determine the scope of congregational worship in the house of God is an abomination of gargantuan proportions,” he said.
“No true minister of the gospel will succumb to such travesty of the faith. This is a summary of my objections. I have sent this message hoping that you would respond as one who bears the burden of the cross of Jesus.
“I have restrained myself from making a public outcry of this desecration and profanation out of respect for you and the CAN hierarchy. But be assured that this position is transient.”
Okotie’s statement comes about three weeks after David Oyedepo, the presiding bishop of Living Faith Worldwide, declared that anyone against the rise of the church will die.
Chris Oyakhilome, founder of LoveWorld Incorporated, had also scolded pastors for shutting down their churches in compliance with the federal government’s ban on religious gatherings.