The charismatic churches front appears to be divided over President Akufo-Addo’s directive to suspend religious services and other social gatherings for the next four weeks as part of measures to combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While a group has welcomed the directive and asked its members to comply with the Presidential Orders, another group is questioning the directive.
The Ghana Charismatic Bishops’ Conference in particular said the government did not engage them before the decision was taken and described it as arbitrary.
“The arbitrary closure of churches and places of worship without consultation or discussion for four weeks smacks of disregard of the importance of the church’s role in the country,” they said in a statement.
“This disregard for this powerful social and religious institution to which over 70 per cent of Ghanaians belong is wrong,” they said.
They even went to the extent of questioning why the President’s order did not include other “places of intense social interactions” like night clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, busy offices, banks, drinking spots, chop bars, lorry stations and markets, saying “such entities have been noted in other country’s experience, France being a good example, where the pandemic has not been controlled as such enterprises have remained open.”
“To only ask for the closure of churches and places of worship is a rather biased view of the society and does not improve much the odds of getting the disease under control,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, a joint statement issued by the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) and the National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches (NACCC), on behalf of its over 400 denominational churches, embraced the directive and commended government for the show of leadership towards the global pandemic.
They also offered their unflinching support at all levels to ensure that the directives achieve their desired outcomes in ultimately ridding Ghana of COVID-19.
“We also entreat all members to strictly adhere to the basic preventive measures put in place and practise social distancing,” the joint statement signed by Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong-Manso, President, GPCC, and Arch Bishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, President, NACCC, said.
The release further encouraged all Ghanaians not to panic or fear but join in prayers and invoke the power of God to intervene.
“While observing the directives as issued, we entreat all our members not to relent in their responsibilities as gatekeepers of our nation by uniting in spirit with leadership for sustained prayers to our God who is not limited by space and distance for He will hear us and heal our nation from this pandemic,” it said.
Royalhouse Live Broadcast
The Royalhouse Chapel International has announced it will be conducting online services in place of the ban.
The Apostle General, Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah, in a live telecast on Monday evening, said, “We as civil people want to comply with the directives of the President for the well-being of all of us, because the disease we are dealing with is an evil one and the means of spread is dangerous … therefore, we want to protect our family and the entire country.”
“This Sunday at 9:00 am, I and 15 people will be broadcasting the word of God to you…and I will be employing prophetic and biblical tokens meant to preserve and protect us,” the Apostle General said.
The International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) has introduced an app to communicate and conduct church services online as the ban is enforced.
A statement signed by Pastor Mensa Otabil, the General Overseer of the church, indicated that the directive is to fully comply with governments proactive measures of curbing the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The Police Administration, in consultation with the Police Hospital, has directed all personnel to observe preventive measures as stipulated by the service.
Suspects in cells and all visitors to the charge office and other offices must also be encouraged to practise personal hygiene, a circular issued by the Director General of the Police Administration, George Akuffo Dampare, Commissioner of Police, indicated.
The MTTD, highway, snap-check and general patrol personnel were asked to avoid unwanted, unprofessional contacts with the public during the discharge of duties and also carry personal hand sanitizers to disinfect their hands anytime they come into contact with any other person.
GMA/ GAMLS Demands
Meanwhile, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is demanding equitable distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) following the increase in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country.
GMA said the rise in the reported cases warrants an immediate release of essential logistics to allow personnel in health facilities to effectively handle any suspected or confirmed case.
“What we are basically saying is that, at this point in time, we should ensure that all parts of the country get all the needed supplies and all these logistics are made available at the facility level. It is very important because once we have the presumption that there is a community contact and someone is infected because of these imported cases, they will also end up at the facility level and the frontline staff should be well protected so they don’t get infected in the process,” General Secretary of the association, Justice Yankson, added.
The Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists has also called on the government to consider setting up at least two more testing centres for the coronavirus.