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Rivers churches split into sessions to observe social distancing

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Most churches in Rivers State on Sunday had not more than 50 members in each worship session in compliance with the rule on social distancing by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some clerics, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt, stated that the religious institutions were committed to the fight against the dreaded disease.

Senior Pastor of the School Road branch of the Deeper Life Bible Church in Port Harcourt, James Ata, said his branch received a directive from their headquarters in Lagos urging them on effective distancing pattern.

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However, other churches with very large congregations ended up conducting over eight worship sessions on an hourly schedule.

NAN also gathered that the routine house fellowships usually observed on Sunday evenings by most Pentecostal churches had been suspended till further notice.

One of the home cell coordinators of Joyful Assembly Ministries, Mrs. Better Ben, said she received an order from the church headquarters suspending the meetings indefinitely.

It was equally learnt that the Catholic churches in the state had suspended masses sine die.

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Meanwhile, a Benin City, Edo State-based cleric and president of World Christian Fellowship, Prophet Okoduwa Aiorkpa, at the weekend enjoined government at all levels to include prayers in the ongoing efforts to fight the CONVID-19 epidemic.

He canvassed spiritual warfare and engagement of religious leaders for supplications and fasting to boost measures by medical personnel.

The convener of the Nigeria National Prayer and Fasting Programme insisted that the steps taken by the government to check the novel Coronavirus would remain inadequate without spiritual intervention particularly prayers of the Christian community and its leaders.

Urging the government to urgently liaise with the church for a lasting solution to the scourge, Aiorkpa asserted that restrictions on travels and advocacy for social distancing in 14 days in the absence of spiritual cleansing would not make much impact.

He also sought increased sensitisation of the grassroots on the malaise.

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