October 4, 2023

Following the outcry that greeted crossover services amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, leading churches in the country opted for the virtual experience on December 31, 2020, but will congregate physically on Sunday, January 3, 2021, for the First Thanksgiving Service of the New Year, The PUNCH has learnt.

The First Sunday of a New Year is as significant as a crossover service as Christians gather to pray and worship their Maker for the gift of a brand New Year.

The PUNCH had earlier reported that some megachurches in the country adjusted or altogether shelved physical crossover services over concerns for public health safety and adherence to the 12am to 4am curfew imposed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

Consequently, a large turnout is expected to greet the First Sunday Service of the year. But experts believe the gathering could escalate the rising Covid cases reported lately in the country.

Findings by our correspondent showed that the Living Faith Church Worldwide aka Winners’ Chapel, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Covenant Christian Centre, Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Daystar Christian Centre, House on the Rock Church, amongst others, have announced physical worship services for the first Sunday of the Year 2021.

“We are beyond excited about coming together to give thanks, tomorrow (Sunday) and all year long. Service holds at all our physical centres and online,” Daystar tweeted on Saturday, imploring members to register online as seats are limited.

“3rd of January 2021, the first Sunday for the year 2021 shall be a Prophetic Entrance into the Month of January…Come along with your family members, friends and other loved ones,” Winners’ Chapel announced on its verified Facebook page.

House on the Rock Church also announced, “Get a Fresh Start in this New Year, join us as we partake of the Holy Communion this Sunday at the Rock Cathedral, Lekki from 9am. Register on our website, and come with your facemask and QRCode. All Covid-19 protocols will be strictly adhered to.”

While the churches checked by our correspondent all stressed the need for members to comply with the COVID-19 protocols when they gather in communal worship on Sunday, a Professor of Virology, Oyewale Tomori, told The PUNCH on Saturday that churches should not meet physically tomorrow to sustain the small gains achieved when the crossover services were shelved.

Tomori, who is the Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, said, “Why avoid crossover services and then do big parties tomorrow (Sunday)? They only postponed the evil day for another day.

“They cancelled the crossover services to curb the spread of the virus but the services tomorrow would have the same implication they tried to avoid.

“The Bible says where two or more are gathered God will be there. The same way, where two or more are gathered without wearing face masks, coronavirus will be there waiting for them.”

Also, an Epidemiologist and Public Health Expert, Prof. Tanimola Akande, said Nigerians would face the consequences of flouting the guidelines rolled out by the PTF

Akande said, “There are standard guidelines that the NCDC has rolled out and these guidelines are not new to the churches. I am a Christian as well but churches have not been abiding by the protocols including social distancing and use of face masks.

“The government too is shy in enforcing these guidelines. Government does not want to be seen as persecuting Christians but we will all pay for the consequences, all of us will pay for it. The second wave is very serious but we don’t want to take it seriously in Nigeria.”

But the Christian Association of Nigeria has since urged its members to comply with the directives of governments at federal and sub-national levels including social distancing, use of face masks.

This newspaper had also reported that the Presiding Bishop of Winners’ Chapel, David Oyedepo, said the church was organised, urging the government to focus its Covid containment on marketplaces, bus stops and other public places.

Nigeria has recorded over 85,000 Covid infections including more than 1,200 associated fatalities, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.



























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