KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, has asked Government to consider allowing more faithful to physically attend prayers in places of worship.
For now, only 200 people are allowed in places of worhip at a time as one of the anti-pandemic measures since these religious facilities were allowed to reopen last month (September).
The decision to reopen worship places was a welcome relief for the religious fraternity, after being limited to praying remotely for several weeks in the wake of the second lockdown.
But now some religious leaders like Kaziimba feel the number of faithful allowed at any given time should be revised.
He said some churches are big enough to accommodate big numbers even with social distancing maintained.
While leading service at All Saints Cathedral in Nakasero on Sunday, the archbishop thanked God fo the reopening of churches, but felt that an adjustment to the numbers should be considered.
It can be handled on a case by case basis, said the 59-year-old Anglican bishop, who has been at the helm of the Church of Uganda since March 2020.
“You find a church which can accommodate more than 200 Christians, and in reverse you find a local church which cannot accommodate 200 people. I ask the Government to look into this.’
In late September, President Yoweri Museveni underlined the conditions under which places of worship would reopen as follows:
– Limit the number of worshippers at any one time to not more than 200 provided the place of worship can ensure physical distancing of 2 meters on either side and adequate aeration.
– There must be strict adherence to all SOPs at all times i.e. hand washing/ use of alcohol based sanitizer, temperature monitoring, and consistent wearing of face masks by all congregants including the choir and preachers.
– No congregation for worship after curfew hours.
– The 200-persons-limit, physical distancing and all other SOPs should be respected even during special occasions e.g. weddings, funeral services, confirmation, etc.
– Partner with Government to communicate and mobilize the population for vaccination and other control measures.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Kaziimba raised concern over the rise in the number of early pregnancies in mostly the Busoga sub-region in eastern Uganda. He said here, negligent parents are to blame, especially during the lockdown period when schools have been closed.
Without citing sources, Kaziimba said that in just a week, up to 1,000 and 200 girls have reportedly been impregnated in Iganga and Bukedi districts, respectively. Some of the men responsible are the girls’ relatives, he added.
Kaziimba’s clarion call, therefore, was to parents to pay more attention to their children.
During the service, dummy cheques totaling to more than sh130m were presented to the Archbishop towards the clearing a huge debt (sh48b) by the Church House.