Ugandan president suspends public worship over Covid concerns: Response from Archbishop Kaziimba

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7th June 2021

Dear Bishops, Clergy, and all Christians,

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Yesterday, His Excellency, the President of Uganda, announced the decision of the government to suspend communal prayers in all places of worship, including churches, for 42 days. I want to make it clear to all of us that this does not mean that churches are closed. No. Churches are not closed. It may not be possible for us to gather on Sundays for prayer, worship, and Holy Communion, but the church is not closed. The church is people, and we can find other ways to worship, pray, evangelize, and support one another. We have done this before, and we can do this again. In fact, I believe we can do it even better than the first time!

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18.18)

1. Once again, I am calling on all husbands and fathers to step up and take responsibility for leading your families in daily home prayers and in Sunday worship. The Family is the smallest church, and every home needs its “Family Altar.”

2. In the last lockdown, some churches developed the capacity for online streaming of worship services. I urge you to continue using YouTube, Facebook, and Zoom. We will continue to offer Worship from Home at the Archbishop’s Palace in the coming weeks, and it will be broadcast on local TV stations and the Church of Uganda’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

3. “Radio Church” should also continue. We are asking all radio stations to collaborate again with the church under these extraordinary circumstances and provide air time on Sunday mornings to broadcast local language worship services.

4. We also encourage all Bishops to link with local TV stations for ways to broadcast a local language Sunday service through television.

5. I also want to encourage Christians to reach out in as many ways as possible – phone calls, text messages, social media – to one another so we continue to encourage one another in our faith. This is especially important for the elderly and those who may be isolated. Please make sure they have the practical, emotional, and spiritual support of the Christian community. Weddings and funerals may be limited to only 20 people, but there are other ways to express your solidarity and I encourage you to utilize them.

6. Do not neglect to worship God through your tithes and offerings. It is still possible to travel within your District. So, please bring your tithe and offering to your local church. Those churches which have not yet gotten mobile money numbers, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. While it is not the same as taking your offering to God during worship, when you send via mobile money, God knows it is your offering and receives it as your offering to him. Please do not neglect this!

7. The “Yes, We Can!” Church House Love Gift Fundraising campaign will continue. Worship will continue online, and contributions can be made at any Equity Bank, or through MTN or Airtel Mobile Money. Please continue to give. The Church is not closed. God’s Word is not closed. We will not slow down. The mission will continue. Please don’t be discouraged by the lockdown. Let’s keep moving forward.

8. Church and diocesan staffs should organize themselves so that only 30% of staff are in the office at the same time. Let’s use this opportunity to adopt more digital and online technology for how we do our work and conduct meetings.

Encouragements

1. Please be extra careful to follow all the SOPs. We are our brother’s keeper, as the Bible says.

a. Make sure you always wear a mask so that it covers your nose and mouth. If someone at home has cough or flu, please organize your home so they are supported, but also isolated.

b. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and use lots of hand sanitizer.c. Avoid unnecessary meetings in person; make phone calls instead.d. Do not touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.e. Always keep a physical distance of 2 metres from other people.

2. Please get vaccinated. The House of Bishops and I have met with scientists who developed our vaccine and have been assured of its safety. I have personally received both vaccinations and there is no problem.

3. I want us all to seize the spiritual opportunity that is being given to us through this crisis. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7.13-14, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Once again, I call for this season to be a season of prayer and fasting for our people and our land. When the Lord shows you areas you need to repent personally, please do it. We express our sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in this pandemic. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.” (Ps 116.15)

Finally, don’t forget to sing about God’s faithfulness in your homes and communities. Why? Because “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3.21-23)

Yours, in Christ,

The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba

ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.