Reopening of Church: Christ Embassy reject CAN guidelines, commence normal services

By Emmanuel AKPAN

Christ Embassy, Uyo a.k.a Loveworld Incorporated have rejected the recommended guidelines by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to Akwa Ibom State Government for reopening of churches in the State, describing it as a clear attempt to gag the church.

Briefing journalists over the weekend at the church headquarters in Uyo, Pastor Charis Owoeye, who is the Zonal Administrator of Christ Embassy Nigeria South-South Zone 2, said the guidelines were Impracticable.

Pastor Charis Owoeye, who was represented by Pastor Emmanuel Effiong said Christ Embassy is a global ministry and they do not believe nor advocate unionism of the church, rather they believe in the unity of the faith; this, their Statement of Faith clearly reflects.

He stated that without equivocation that the church is not a member of CAN or any other association in the country and as such, hold the strong belief that church cannot and should not be bound by whatever decision, the association or any other association reaches with the Akwa Ibom State Government.

Pastor Charis Owoeye said the church have not relinquished her rights to CAN and accordingly under the law of the land, the body cannot speak for the church or enter into any legal binding agreement on behalf of the church.

According to him, “While we do not question the rights of any body of churches forming an association nor are we against CAN or any association setting up guidelines for their members, it is totally unacceptable to believe that such guidelines will be binding on none members of their groups. Government on the other hand failed, refused/or neglected to involve all parties with vested interest in Christendom in the consultation to reopen churches, thereby arrogating non-existent powers to the association, which acted only to the limit of its leadership knowledge.”

The Man of God further noted that the strict guidelines laid out by CAN make it impracticable for the Church to exercise their rights, adding that a cursory look at the said guidelines will expose a clear picture of experimentation with the Church as a guinea pig.

“Some of the steps outlined include basic hygiene procedures like washing of hands with running water, sanitizing the hands, applying social distance in arrangement of seats which the Church finds acceptable in the circumstances, but to ridicule the entire process, the use of face masks for the entire duration of congregational worship; an act which has been scientifically proven to be hazardous to the health, as uninterrupted use of the face mask over a long period may cause “Hypoxia”; the absence of enough oxygen to sustain bodily functions. Also, no matter the sitting capacity of the hall and the congregation, we are expected not to sit more than 200 (two hundred) worshipers during each church service among others.”

Speaking further, he said, “This is a clear attempt to gag the church. Why these strict guidelines for a body that has its internal protocols and mechanisms to regulate her members during congregational service at all material times? Same is not applicable in the market place, where decorum is usually thrown to the winds and every vendor and purchaser left to their fate. While some claim the market is economic based, does an activity being economic based immune one from the said coronavirus disease? The Church is more essential than a lot of other sectors and must be allowed to hold its services freely as she can regulate the conduct of her members.”

Pastor Charis Owoeye maintained that the church deem it very important to not only set the record straight, but further place it on the public domain for the information of the government, security agencies and the general public that the Church shall soon commence her normal services, while adhering to the basic guidelines as stipulated by the state government, in keeping with international hygiene best practices.

He stressed that his ministry reach cuts across the State, with visible presence in every local government and that presently, they have 90 branches networked within the state, 26 major branches within Uyo metropolis alone and over 20,000 worshippers on a Sunday morning even as he that it shows that church represents a sizeable number of Akwa Ibom people, residents and their faith.

Meanwhile, the Pastor informed pressmen that Christ Embassy, during lockdown, continued to be a source of hope and succour to the good citizens of the State as millions of relief materials had been sent out through their various churches in numerous zones all over the world to those in need; with Christ Embassy Uyo taking a firm lead in sending out, on two different occasions, millions of relief materials to men and women in Akwa Ibom State.