Archbishop of Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Dr Stephen Kazimba Mugalu has appealed to government to reconsider the guidelines issued for re-opening of places of worship, because they are “impossible” to certain congregations.
In a pastoral letter issued on Monday, Dr Stephen Kazimba Mugalu said the government’s directive which limits congregations to 70 worshippers can only be practical in churches with smaller congregations but not for larger congregations.
In his address to the nation on Sunday, Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni said places of worship can open for fellowship and prayer congregations, provided they do not exceed 70 and observing Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) put in place by government in prevention of COVID-19.
“For larger congregations, however, it will be impossible for the entire congregation to be able to gather in different groups of 70 people for a corporate worship service. My own Cathedral for example, averages 4,000 people on a Sunday spread across three different services. To cater for all 4,000 people in groups of 70, we would need to schedule 57 different worship services, which is simply not practical” Arch Kazimba Mugalu said.
Dr Kazimba Mugalu says, government should instead offer maximum seating in places of worship based on the number of square meter in worship space rather than a fixed number of people regardless of the size of the room.
While President Museveni’s directive on re-opening of places of worship allowed individual prayers and confessions with priests, no clear guidance was issued in regard to outdoor worship. Archbishop Kazimba Mugalu appealed to government to allow outdoor gatherings for worship with all appropriate SOPs in place.
He however noted that Church of Uganda had already served every Bishop and Diocesan office with a copy of guidelines for resuming public worship, developed by government in conjunction with Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), to facilitate training of local church leaders in implementation of SOPs.
He noted that while the Church of Uganda has not been as good at worship at home, they had started to endure and adapt to home worship since the early church as summarized in the Book of Acts, took both the format of public worship in Temples and at the same time worship at home.
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