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COVID-19: Its effects on church worship and ministry – Ireoba

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From left, Bishops Manasses C. Okere; Christian C. Ugwuzor; Blessing Enyinda; Archbishop Ugochukwu U. Ezuoke and wife (rtd.); Most Rev. Isaac C. Nwaobia and wife, Mrs. Hope N. Nwaobia (host); Chigozirim Onyebule; Geoffrey Ibeabuchi; Temple Nwogu; Johnson Onuoha; Precious Nwala and Nwokleme at Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South Synod 2020, held yesterday at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Agbaragwu, Isiala Ngwa South, Abia State.<br />

The Rector, Ibru Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, The Ven. Dr. Princewill O. Ireoba has said the most dramatic effect of COVID-19 on worship, ministry and mission of the church is the unexpected shift of church services from in-person to online service.

He disclosed this while delivering his paper on “The effect of COVID-19 on the worship, ministry and mission of the Church” at the Abuja Diocesan Synod, held at St. James Anglican Church, Asokoro, Abuja.

Ireoba examined the manifestations of COVID-19 pandemic, its effects, the church’s response and ways through which the church could strategise for the future, given the new realities.

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“Many may not have contracted the virus or suffered the disease, but matters arising from efforts to combat it have touched every facet of human endeavour and changed the world and everything in it, including the worship, ministry and mission of the Church,” he said.

He explained that the pandemic brought to the fore, the extreme divergence of beliefs of Christians concerning faith and divine healing; and the need for sound integration of science and faith in health-giving theologies.

The Rector, who noted that COVID-19 had taught the church to do ministry differently, said the church needs to review members’ hygienic discipline and ethics, and intensify its teaching ministry, not only on issues of faith but also on other topical and practical issues.

He said the use of transfer and online transactions should deliberately be encouraged to allow members fulfil their financial obligations to the church, while knowledgeable professionals should be engaged to assist the church in maximising its digital and online presence.

He urged the church to train and re-train its ministers and ensure that they are conversant with the latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT); to review and strengthen the church’s care ministry and members’ welfare; and develop family unit ministry, where parents are empowered to be leaders.

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The guest speaker, who noted that God expects the church to assist the needy and vulnerable, urged the church to reflect God’s concern for His people and stand up for the oppressed.

He tasked the church to be prudent in financial management and think of other ways to diversify fund generation, rather than the usual dependence on members’ contributions.

Ireoba admonished the church to engage in holistic mission, saying God has called the church to minister to the “whole inhabited world” and not just Christians.

He said Christians must be part of the rebuilding of the economy, communities and cities and not abstain from any part of the development process.

“As we engage in the holistic mission, we give the hungry, thirsty, and dark world a holistic vision of a God, Who cares about their soul, their personhood, and their vocation. People still need Jesus more than ever, but they need a complete Jesus, not an incomplete one,” he said.

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