The Akwa Ibom State Government has approved the reopening of churches in the state on Sunday, June 07, 2020.
This is based on guidelines recommended by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) backed by an undertaking to comply and signed by representatives of all the blocs.
The State Government is confident that CAN; being a body full of integrity, will do everything within its jurisdiction to ensure that all churches adhere strictly to these guidelines as violators will be prosecuted.
A Joint Monitoring Team has been set up in each Senatorial District; comprising of representatives of Government, Security Agencies and CAN.
However, the BAN on BURIALS, WEDDINGS and indeed all forms of SOCIAL GATHERINGS is STILL IN-FORCE until further notice.
Citizens and Residents are enjoined to observe all prescribed guidelines on religious and social gatherings as well as PHYSICAL DISTANCING while WEARING FACE MASKS.
Hon Commissioner for Information
Akwa Ibom State.
May 31, 2020.
Below is the recommendations
Opening of the Church and other things to
Church should open on all Sundays.
Church should open at least on two (2) Week days for mid-week services.
Each Service shift should have an attendance of 10% of the church sitting capacity but not exceeding a maximum of 200 persons depending on the church space.
Every church should provide running water for congregants to wash their hands at the church entrances whether or not they washed at home or in the absence of running water, hand sanitizers should be provided for members to sanitize their hands before entry into the church auditorium or offices.
Use of general hymn books should be stopped for now and hymns projected.
Use of Air Conditioners is discouraged while all windows should be opened for proper/cross ventilation.
Shaking or joining of h ands to pray is not allowed for the time being.
Waving or fanning oneself with handkerchief is prohibited.
Physical distancing must be observed at the entrance before and after the Service.
General tarry Nights should be suspended for now till the Pandemic should have been convincingly curtailed.
Service time should be between 1½ (one an half hours) to two (2 hours) in the maximum.
Members with known ailments should be advised to stay off Services.
All National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines must be observed during church services.
Three days to opening of the church, every church must train her workers in batches on implementation of the approved guidelines. • The usage of only one cup during Holy Communion should be suspended for the time being.
Multiple cups should be used and in the event where cup refilling will be needed, such cups should be properly washed with soap and rinsed before being used again.
All leaders involved in serving the communion must sanitize their hands and wear face masks before carrying the communion trays.
Communicants should collect bread and wine, return to their seats and take them personally.
Serving of bread should where possible be given out with a Spoon.
Or rather, Communion services could be put on hold till further notice.
All microphones should be sanitized after being used by an assigned church member. An Usher or a protocol officer or a church worker should be assigned the duty of sanitizing the microphones.
Microphones could be stationed on a microphone stand to avoid handling.
Users must keep audio distancing of 5 – 7 inches from the microphone.
Number of officiating ministers using Microphones should be reduced altogether till the pandemic is over. • The number of Choristers during each service shift should be reduced to avoid clustering.
Multiple choirs singing in the same Service is suspended for the time being. The frequency in singing should be minimized for the time being.
Each chorister (if possible) should be assigned a specific microphone throughout the service.
Use of microphone stands is recommended so that microphones will not be touched.
Choir robe should be worn but use of choir robe hat should be replaced with personal hat or beret.
Choir practice should be done in batches on the Service day or stopped altogether till the pandemic is over.
Door entrances and exits should be manned by Ushers or Protocol officers to avoid clustering when people are entering or exiting the church.
The entrance and exit points (where possible) should not be the same but separate.
Door handles and staircase railings should be properly disinfected before the commencement and after the closing of every service shift.
This task should be assigned to specific ushers or protocol officers for compliance.
Members should not be allowed to dance out during offerings for the time being.
Offerings should be collected using offering bags.
Door entrances, railings and door handles (knobs):
Specific ushers should be assigned to carry the offering bags for the people to drop their offerings without leaving their seats or touching the offering bags.
Giving out change in smaller denominations should not be allowed in the church.
Workers counting offering after service should be cladded with face masks and hand gloves, as well as wash their hands and use sanitizers before and after counting the offering.
The church auditorium and seats should be disinfected with disinfectants like Lysol, Parazone, Jik, Hypo, etc.(diluted with water) before and after every service shift.
For this to be possible, there should be a minimum of 30 minutes in between each service shift to give room for the cleaning of surfaces and railings and orderly departure of those in the previous shift.
Ushers, protocols and other assigned workers should be made to ensure orderliness in entering and exiting of the church auditorium after each service shift and also fend off any form of clustering or waiting by brethren within and outside the church premises.
Children between ages one and six should be with their parent during service
All children must be made to observe both physical and social distancing. In addition. Children that are seven (7) years and above must wear face mask.
Feeding of children in the department should be suspended for now. If there is need for this, the parents should be called to handle it.
The Children workers must be put on red-alert to be able to respond urgently to any situation in the department.
If the children’s church is not spacious enough, the use of a canopy or canopies outside is highly recommended.
Children with known ailments should be advised to stay off service.
Fraternizing after Service called “fellowship after the fellowship”:
This must be stopped completely.
All worshipers should be politely asked to leave the church premises for their homes immediately after the Service.
Ushers must be assigned to monitor the toilets and ensure that they are flushed by users immediately after use and the flow master handles sanitized. • Tissue papers should be cut into small sizes and given to each person for use by a gloved worker.
Toilet rooms should be disinfected immediately after use by anybody.
All toilets should be manned by an usher or protocol officer or an assigned worker who must ensure that those using the toilet wash their hands with soap and running water.
Ordinations, Birthdays, Weddings, Burials etc. should hold but the criteria must comply with those applicable to holding of church services. At Burials dancing or moving around the court during lying – in- state should be curtailed.
There should be no reception, party or entertainment after the Ceremony but the host can give out packed refreshment items to those present.
During Child dedication, only the parent should move out to present the child for dedication. The officiating Minister will pray over the child while still in the hands of the Parents.
Dancing out for thanksgiving should be prohibited for now.
Those who want to celebrate by dancing with fanfare as was the case before, should postpone their celebration until the Pandemic should have been convincingly curtailed.
Baptism by immersion of many candidates should being suspended for the time being.
Large crowd events such as conventions, camping programs, crusades, synods and such other conferences should be suspended for the time being.
Surfaces in Pastors’ offices should be disinfected from time to time during counseling. However, one on one counseling in the office should be reduced to the barest minimum or the venue be moved to a more spacious place.
Where hands must be laid, the Pastor must wear hand gloves for each person in addition to wearing a face mask.
Assurance on Compliance with
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) assures the Government that the church will comply with all approved guidelines for her reopening. It is therefore necessary as earlier requested that at least 200 Church leaders be invited for sensitization prayers at a venue where social distancing shall be observed. At that meeting CAN will appreciate His Excellency’s presence to address the Ministers and encourage them to continue to support the Government on the measures to make Akwa Ibom State Covid-19 free.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) will set up a monitoring team at the State level and every of her Local Government Chapter to monitor compliance with the approved guidelines for reopening of Churches. Meanwhile, CAN has begun aggressive sensitization including producing a jingle which is already ongoing in AKBC Radio. We intend to spread to other media outfits and even do more, but we are highly handicapped financially. We therefore hope to do more with your support.
Government should support CAN monitoring team to ensure adequate enforcement of compliance by churches to the guidelines.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Akwa Ibom State appeals to His Excellency to consider Pastors as essential workers with necessary incentives so as to partner with Government in the sensitization of their members to comply with Government approved policies e.g. temperature Thermometers, face masks, sanitizers, etc, etc.
The Christian Association of Nigeria appreciates His Excellency for his indefatigable efforts in combating and containing the Corona Virus pandemic in the State. Furthermore, CAN assures His Excellency of continuous education of all church members on Covid-19 prevention measures and will pray for the Economy of the State to rebound as the churches reopen for services.
Thank you your Excellency,
Dated this 24th day of May, 2020.
Rev. Dr. Ndueso A. Ekwere
Chairman, CAN, AKS
Bishop Dr. Emmanuel T. Ebitu
Secretary, CAN, AKS.