President Uhuru Kenyatta set the stage for debate after issuing tough guidelines towards the resumption of worship as he announced the reopening of the country on Monday, July 6.
The most stringent of measures imposed by the Head of State was the age limit directive on congregants, coupled with that on children.
"In-person worship should not include congregants under the age of 13 or those above 58 years or persons with underlying conditions," the directive reads in part.
This directive to curb the spread of Coronavirus did not augur well with some of the clergies who felt that it was too harsh especially as most of them are over 58 years old. Speaking with Kenyans.co.ke, a number of them offered alternatives to the directive.President Uhuru Kenyatta delivering his speech on July 6, 2020.PSCU
Renowned Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome, the Secretary-General, Centre for Sustainable Conflict Resolution and Legal Advisor to the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims welcomed the guidelines but asked the President to lower the age of children and allow Imams and clergy to lead the sermons.
"We are happy places of worship will be reopened. Since Covid-19 is a reality, we must have some guidelines in the mosques and churches. However, Imams and pastors should be exempted from the 58 years rule unless one has an underlying condition. Let's also lower the age of children to seven years unaccompanied. The guiding principle should be if the child can observe the safety measures in the mosque," Sheikh Lethome proposed.
Dr. Anthony Musembi, clergy and musician based in Nakuru reiterated the Sheikh's sentiments wondering who would lead the sermons.
"In as much as we invite the president's directive, some of the rules are totally interfering with our Freedom of Worship. The best practice could be to let the elderly attend places of worship but be keener and maintain social distancing. Remember, these elderly people still go to other social places like the market and still practice safety. Why is it different in places of worship?
Musembi added that he had directed his church members to continue following services virtually for those barred from attending church services as an alternative to the directive.
"On our part, we have set up all the requirements and our gatherings for services will proceed on a daily basis Monday to Sunday to allow people to worship at a date of their choice as we also continue with the online services. As we observe the religious committee's recommendations let's also remember we are now entitled to observe personal safety. Remember dead people don't worship. Let us stay safe even as we congregate. With God we shall overcome all," the artist stated.
Pastor Macharia George of City Lighters, Nairobi, also stated that online services would be the means forward adding that his hope is that the clergy would play their part in flattening the curve while still nourishing the souls of men.President Uhuru Kenyatta (Fifth from the Left) at the National Prayer Service held at State House Nairobi on March 21, 2020..jpgPSCU
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