The trio of Sam Adeyemi, the senior pastor of the Daystar Christian Centre, Chris Okotie, senior pastor of the Household of God Church and Tunde Bakar
The trio of Sam Adeyemi, the senior pastor of the Daystar Christian Centre, Chris Okotie, senior pastor of the Household of God Church and Tunde Bakare, the serving overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, have all said that their churches will not reopen despite the directive by the Lagos state government on resumption of services at worship centres.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, had announced that religious centres will reopen from August 7. However, the governor noted that the centres would only be allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity and all standard prevention and control measures must be adhered to.
In a statement signed by the senior pastor and Nike, his wife, Adeyemi said he will not reopen his church for physical gathering until it is safe to do so. He said services will still be transmitted online and encouraged members to connect to the various platforms.
Okotie however condemned the use of facemask in the church, saying that wearing a face mask or face shield in church goes against the basic tenets of the Christian faith. And for this reason, will not be reopening his church. Although he acknowledged other precautions put in place by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus, he said the wearing of face masks was unacceptable.
Citing various Bible references, the clergyman said wearing a mask or a face shield to church is separation from God because it is like reintroducing the veil which was torn the moment Jesus died on the cross.
“When a man is standing before God in church wearing a shield or mask, he is denying the finished work of the cross. Before we offer our sacrifices and lift up holy hands before God, we must make sure that everything is decent and in order. We must only follow the protocols outlined in the Bible, not any directive that violates the basic tenets of our faith.”
Bakare on his part had kicked against the directive on the reopening of religious centres. He faulted the decision to reopen worship centres when the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) projected that the COVID-19 may reach its peak in August. He advised worshippers not to be “deceived by the government or religious leaders.”
“I have to appeal to you once again, please keep safe and do your best to stay alive. Do not let anyone, whether religious leader or governmental leader, to drive you like a sheep to the slaughter. If they (the government and the disease control authorities) said that the month of August is going to be the peak of the infection, why should they ask people to rush in (re-open the churches) again?”
“Please keep safe and do your best to keep alive by keeping all the necessary rules. We know that by the grace of God this pandemic like the others before it has an expiry date. It shall not see our end. We shall see its end in the mighty name of Jesus.”
He said that his church will remain closed until the coast is clear.