Church attendance low as many opt to follow services online

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What you need to know:

  • Meanwhile, churches like Citam Kisumu on the Nairobi Highway and ACK Dago have remained shut.
  • In Siaya, the African Independent Church had not fully resumed church services. 

Most churches across the country recorded low turnouts yesterday as believers stayed away two weeks after the government lifted the ban on religious gatherings in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spot check by the Nation found that most churches had fewer than 100 congregants, with many worshippers preferring to follow the televised sessions by their respective churches.

In Migori, the Anglican Church of Kenya and the Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship Assembly (PEFA) in Migori had 50 and 90 worshippers, respectively, for their four services conducted yesterday.

At the Consolata Shrine Buoye Parish in Kisumu County, about 62 Catholic faithful attended the morning mass, against the 100 allowed per session.

Meanwhile, churches like Citam Kisumu on the Nairobi Highway and ACK Dago have remained shut.

In Siaya, the African Independent Church had not fully resumed church services.  The pastor told the Nation that most of the members were old and have been barred by age. He said due to the low attendance, they had only two services.

COURAGEOUS FAITHFUL

It was the same case in Vihiga, where the county chairman of the Pentecostal churches said only the courageous faithful had shown up. He said most had opted to stay at home as they gauge the situation.

In Homa Bay, the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Makongeni Parish conducted two services, with a total attendance of 110.

Parish priest Bernard Juma said restrictions laid out by the Inter-faith council might have played a role to the low turnout.

“We had 50 faithful in the first service. Although the number doubled on the second Sunday, we are hopeful that more people will come to church next Sunday,” he said.

Mr Juma urged Homa Bay County government to help churches buy thermoguns and well-wishers to donate sanitisers.

 “Some churches are struggling because the cheapest ones cost roughly Sh10,000 which most Christians cannot afford at this time,” he said.

Things were no different at the Voice of Salvation and Healing Church. At Lung’anyiro Christian Warrior Prayer Centre in Matungu Sub-county, Kakamega County, worshippers were spotted wearing face masks, washing their hands and having their temperatures taken before they entered the church.

COVID-19 PROTOCOL

Bishop Rashid Nanjira said they were observing the Covid-19 protocol to ensure the safety of all the congregants.

“We have organised two services that are conducted by two pastors so that we accommodate all our faithful. The first service begins at 6.30am and runs up to 7.30am. A short interlude of prayer and worship is held up to 8.30am when the second service begins,” he said.

At the Free Pentecostal Church at Matawa in Mumias West, details of all worshippers including their age, phone numbers and where they come from were recorded at the entrance after they sanitised their hands before entering the church.

The Catholic Church has changed its system of offering the communion due to Covid-19.St Romano’s Matawa parish chairman Joseph Okemba said the “blessed bread” is placed on the right hand of the worshipper by the presiding priest, unlike in the past when the priest would place it on the tongue.

At the African Inland Church in Kisii town and Nyamataro Pentecostal Assemblies of God, services were streamed on Facebook and Sayare FM. The few worshippers in attendance had to adhere to strict Covid-19 guidelines.

Bishop Alfayo Omesa, the overseer of PAG in Nyamira, said the churches are undergoing a difficult period, just like many other sectors in the country. He said it was unfair to limit the number of worshippers to 100 per services.

SOCIAL PLACES

He appealed to the government to be fair to churches, saying the Inter-Faith Council on Covid-19, led by Archbishop Anthony Muheria, was biased it its recommendations.

“We do not understand why the same conditions have not been set for those going to the markets or those going to social places yet the church where people are going to worship seems to have tougher conditions,” said Bishop Omesa.

In Kericho and Bomet counties, residents thronged local churches for Sunday service with social distancing and hand washing being observed.

There were few people in places of worship in the North Rift region after many of them failed to meet the Ministry of Health protocols.

Eldoret the sacred heart of Jesus Cathedral fewer than 100 faithful. At Fountain of Wisdom Chapel in Eldoret town, there were about 50 faithful.

 In Kirinyaga County, the faithful started streaming into the churches at 9am but the numbers remained low. But the worshippers said an hour is not enough for a service.

In Nyeri County, more people attended services than last week.

At the New Life Church in Nyeri Town, there were four services, up from three last Sunday. Bishop Paul Wanjohi told the Nation that at least 75 percent of the faithful were attending the services.

By Elizabeth Ojina, Derick Luvega, Ruth Mbula, Shaban Makokha, Dickens Wasonga, Vitalis Kimutai, George Odiwuor, Ian Byron, Wycliffe Nyaberi, Barnabas Bii, Flora Koech, Oscar Kakai, Titus Ominde, George Munene and Reginah Kinogu

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