, 28 June, 2020 / 10:32 PM
Members of Kenya’s Inter-faith Council, constituted to develop protocols for the resumption of public worship are being guided by their faith in the Almighty, advice from relevant experts, and the wishes of the people of God in East African nation as they go about planning the resumption of public worship and related ceremonies, they have said in a statement.
"As faith leaders, we are keen to listen to the voice of God, the wisdom of science and to the voices of our faithful in addressing this mandate that has been tasked to us," the Council members say in their letter issued Saturday, June 27.
They add, “As men and women of faith, we are committed to do what is within our capability to ensure that proper guidelines and protocols are put in place to ensure the safety of our congregants as the phased opening of worship places are put in place and the celebration of wedding, funerals and other religious ceremonies.”
In their collective statement signed by the Council’s Chairperson, Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria, they confirm that they have received proposals from various religious groups and have called on those who wish to send submissions to do so.
"We are open to receive any submissions from organized religious groups who can get in touch with our secretariat,” the members of the Council say.
The 15-member inter-faith council was established June 12, days after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Cabinet Secretaries for Interior and Coordination of National Government and Health to create it.
The council also includes Bishop John Obala of the Diocese of Ngong and Bishop Joseph Obanyi of the Diocese of Kakamega, representatives of other religious entities including the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) among others.
Places of worship in Kenya have been closed since March after the government gave an order for closure as one of the measures to minimize the risk of spreading the Coronavirus.
The East African nation has recorded at least 6,040 cases of COVID-19 including 141 deaths and 1,936 recoveries.
In their June 27 statement, the Inter-faith Council members underscore the importance of adhering to safety rules provided by the Ministry of Health(MoH) saying, “We wish to reiterate one cardinal principle; the safe reopening of the places of worship will depend entirely on our compliance to the current MoH guidelines and those that this Council will present.”
If congregants “fully embrace the new normal to prevent the spread of new infections, this will make it much easier and accelerate the safe phased reopening of congregational worship,” they say.
The religious leaders add, “We invite the public to participate in this process by inviting feedback through sending a memorandum to the council through its email address [email protected] to reach the Council by July 2, 2020.”
The mandate of the council shall expire December 31, 2020 but may be extended at the President’s discretion.
Meanwhile, in an interview with local media, Archbishop Muheria said that challenges brought about by the pandemic have made people appreciate that God is in control.
“COVID-19 has taught us the spiritual sense of being in family, appreciating the family. We have been too busy doing our businesses, sometimes not having time for our Families. These are good lessons for us,” Archbishop Muheria who is the Local Ordinary of Nyeri Archdiocese said on Kenya's Citizen television Saturday, June 27.
He added, “The hunger for God this time of the closure has made us yearn more for God. I am optimistic that it will be a resurgence of religion (and) spirituality ... I see the Church coming strongly, I see faith grouping resurrecting and flourishing tremendously."
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa