- Demand to be allowed to return to Church
The time has come for the churches to be allowed to return to the normal ways of worshipping, Botswana Network of Christian Communities (BONECCO) Chairman Pastor Tebogo Motlhagodi has said.
According to Pastor Motlhagodi, the Church is a highly disciplined entity that can easily adhere to COVID-19 protocols compared to many sectors which were given a green light to return to normalcy. “So we do not see why we are not allowed to return,” he complained.
“It must be understood that we are not saying we must be allowed to return because other sectors have been given the green light. We want to be allowed to return because we believe the Church is highly important as it is second after God.”
Pastor Motlhagodi’s plea comes just after government gave public transport operators permission to load commuters in full capacity. Schools have also been re-opened.
“The country needs the church more than any other sector. It is the church that can be able to pray for COVID-19 as well as other social ills,” Pastor Motlhagodi told this publication in an interview yesterday.
“We have already submitted our request to the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force and we hope to be successful. They must listen to the voice of the Church because it is the voice of God.”
At the beginning of the gradual lifting of the lockdown last month, churches were given permission to reopen. They were however, allowed to do so under the stringiest measures. Such included limiting gathering to a maximum of 50 people and conducting a service for a maximum of two hours something which Motlhagodi says must come to an end.
He believes the Church must not be limited in any way. The two hours which the Churches were granted by government is not enough to effectively share the gospel according to Pastor Motlhagodi.
BONECCO, which Pastor Motlhagodi heads, is the umbrella body for the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC), the Organization of Africa Instituted Churches (OAIC) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana and speaks on behalf of all Christian formations.
When asked about the full reopening of churches by the media on Monday, Director of Health Services Dr Malaki Tshipayagae said; “Like we said before we will not open for all industries at once, we will take things slowly. Our hope is that as time goes on the churches will return to normal ways of worshiping but when they do they will have to adhere to some measures.”
Meanwhile, Pastor Motlhagodi’s complaints are shared by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) which also holds that the restrictions of physical gatherings have presented a church with a rare challenge to meet as a congregation.
“In many countries church services in physical structures have been banned, and where they are still allowed are under severe restrictions on physical contact,” AACC shared on their website last week. “We are challenged theologically on how to understand the presence of Jesus among us as promised, especially when we cannot celebrate sacraments in the same physical space together.”
AACC is an ecumenical fellowship representing more than 140 million Christians in 42 African countries working to make a difference in the lives of the people of Africa through ministries of advocacy and presence on the continental, regional and local levels.