Sermon

UPDATE ON COVID19

Posted by First United Methodist Church Moheto. on June 4, 2020 at 3:10 AM

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PROPOSED GUIDELINES FOR RE-OPENING

PLACES OF WORSHIP IN THE CONTEXT OF

COVID-19

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TABLE OF CONTENT

I. INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................................3

II. PURPOSE OF THIS GUIDANCE ..............................................................................................................3

III. PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL MEASURES IN PLACES OF WORSHIP ................................................4

1. PROMOTE HEALTHY HYGIENE PRACTICES.......................................................................................4

2. IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING................................................................................................4

3. ENSURE USE CLOTH MASKS .............................................................................................................5

4. PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS ..............................................................................5

5. CLEANING, DISINFECTION, AND VENTILATION ...............................................................................5

6. PREVENT TOUCHING BETWEEN PEOPLE ATTENDING SERVICES AND MINIMIZE COMMUNITY

SHARING OF MATERIALS AND ITEMS ......................................................................................................6

7. TEMPERATURE MONITORING AND RECORD KEEPING ...................................................................6

IV. MONITORING IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE GUIDELINES ..............................................................7

V. NONE COMPLIANCE WITH GUIDELINES IN PLACES OF WORSHIP.......................................................7

VI. UPDATING OF THESE GUIDELINES ...................................................................................................7

VII. REFERENCES......................................................................................................................................8

VIII. ANNEX: RELIGIOUS LEADERS FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19................................................................9

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I. INTRODUCTION

Religious leaders in the Republic of Kenya acknowledge that COVID-19 is a global pandemic,

affecting all races, ethnicities, and geographic regions, that demands collaborative response by

all stakeholders. Religious leaders can play a major role in saving lives and reducing illness related

to COVID-19. They are a primary source of support, comfort, guidance, and direct health care and

social service, for the communities they serve. Religious leaders share health information to

protect their own members and wider communities, which is more likely to be accepted than

from other sources. They provide pastoral and spiritual support during public health emergencies

and other health challenges and advocate for the needs of vulnerable populations. By sharing

clear, evidence-based steps to prevent COVID-19, religiousleaders promote helpful information,

prevent and reduce fear and stigma, provide reassurance to people in their communities, and

promote health-saving practices. Religious leaders are integrated into their communities through

service and compassionate networks and are often able to reach the most vulnerable with

assistance and health information and identify those most in need. Religious leaders are a critical

link in the safety net for vulnerable people within their faith community and wider communities.

Millions of Kenyans embrace worship as an essential part of life. For many faiths, gathering

together for worship is at the heart of what it means to be a community of faith. But as Kenyans

are now aware, gatherings present a risk for increasing spread of COVID-19 during this Public

Health Emergency. As World Health Organization (WHO) has advised, countries should recognize

that COVID-19 will be with us for some time until an appropriate public health tool (e.g. vaccine)

is available. In the meantime, we all have a role in determining the trajectory of this outbreak.

We must continue to confront this common health threat together. We each have a role to play

in keeping the virus at bay.

Under the extraordinary circumstances in which we temporarily live, these public health

guidelines provide that houses of worship should be re-opened. The guidance cannot anticipate

every unique situation. Churches, congregations, and places of worship should stay informed and

take actions based on wise judgment that will protect health and support economic revitalization.

II. PURPOSE OF THIS GUIDANCE

These public health guidelines are a product of a consultative process of religious leaders and

health security experts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These public health guidelines do

not violate the freedom of worship enshrined in the Kenyan constitution of 2010. The guidelines

acknowledge the special role of religious leaders in COVID-19 education, preparedness, and

response. The guidance is the least restrictive means of serving the compelling interest of

allowing houses of worship to re-open for ministry, but helping to prevent/slow the spread of

COVID-19.

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III. PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL MEASURES IN PLACES OF WORSHIP

The religious leaders propose to adopt and implement the following array of public health and

social measures that will help to prevent and suppress transmission of the virus.

1. PROMOTE HEALTHY HYGIENE PRACTICES

Religious leaders will help congregants to maintain healthy hygiene practices by;

 Providing handwashing facilities for members before and after the service or by

placing alcohol-based hand-rub (at least 70% alcohol) at the entrance and in the

worship space.

 Ensure congregants maintain good hand hygiene, washing hands with soap and

water for at least 20 seconds.

 Place disposable facial tissues within easy reach and closed bins for used tissues

 Provide visual displays of advice on physical distancing, hand hygiene, and respiratory

etiquette (cough and sneezing).

2. IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL DISTANCING

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs,

or talks. These droplets can land on people or be breathed in by those close by. Houses of

worship will help to prevent/slow the spread of the virus through the following measures;

 Seating or standing of congregants in worship services will be at least 1.5 m (4 feet) apart.

 Encourage attendees to sit with their family unit during the service.  Physical distancing at services and other gatherings like weddings and funerals will be

implemented.  Religious leaders will take steps to limit the size of gatherings. They will consider multiple

services with fewer attendees if need be.

 Scheduling of services will be far apart to allow enough time for cleaning and disinfecting

high-touch surfaces between services.

 Regulate the number and flow of people entering, attending, and departing from worship

spaces to ensure safe distancing at all times.

 Places of worship are strongly advised to hold a maximum of one mid-week service.  Every single service will be held for a maximum of 2 hours

 Identify a room or area where a person could be safely isolated temporary if he or she

becomes ill or begins to develop symptoms during service. Notify the nearest health

facility or call the toll free lines provided by the Ministry of Health (0729471414,

0732353535, 0748592455, 0800721316 (Toll free)

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3. ENSURE USE CLOTH MASKS

 Cloth masks are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly

infected but does not have symptoms.

 Adherence to the use of cloth masks that covers the mouth and nose among

congregants will highly be encouraged except for children younger than 2 years old.

 The ministers and those leading worship may not use the mask while ministering but

will ensure the required physical distancing is maintained.

4. PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

The Religious Leaders recognize that part of the congregants are vulnerable populations.

These include the elderly, those with underlying health conditions like diabetes mellitus,

cardiovascular diseases, cancers and other chronic diseases. When conducting services,

houses of worship will implement the following practices:

 Ask all attendees who have an underlying at-risk health conditions to stay home and if

possible watch the services online.

 Ask all attendees who are elderly (> 65 years) to stay home and if possible watch the

services online.  Ask parent not to bring young children to places of worship, unless the house of worship

will be able to comply with guidelines for child care facilities that may be provided by the

government.

 Advise those with exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self￾monitor for symptoms as per government guidelines.

 Any worshipper who has COVID-19 like symptoms (dry cough, sneezing, fever, difficulty

in breathing…) should avoid attending worship services.

5. CLEANING, DISINFECTION, AND VENTILATION

 Develop a schedule of increased, routine cleaning and disinfection. This routine should

include cleaning immediately before and immediately after all gatherings.

 Frequently clean often-touched objects such as door knobs, light switches, and stair

railings with disinfectant.

 Ensure that indoor venues have adequate ventilation to increase circulation of outdoor

air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, etc.

 If the indoor venue has limited ventilation, consider holding services and gatherings

outdoors, as circumstances and faith traditions allow.

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6. PREVENT TOUCHING BETWEEN PEOPLE ATTENDING SERVICES AND MINIMIZE

COMMUNITY SHARING OF MATERIALS AND ITEMS

The virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on such surfaces for hours or days. Religious

leaders will protect their members from becoming infected by avoiding practices involving

touching of such surfaces, objects or people. Religious leaders will create and help

congregants to accept new ways including and not limited to the following;

 Physical contact (e.g. shaking hands, hugging) will strictly not be allowed. Instead,

replace hugs and handshakes with greeting people at the entry to worship place with

friendly words and smiles, a peace sign or using a greeting in sign language while

maintaining physical distance.

 Laying of hands by the clergy is temporally prohibited during service in the current

context of COVID-19. Instead congregants will receive prayer/blessing from at least 1 m

away.  Administer Holy Communion without attendees having to touch the same surfaces and

objects.

 Eliminate practices involving touching such as foot washing or dipping fingers into a

common bowl.

 Avoid sharing of microphones during the service among the clergy, choir, praise and

worship teams.

 Temporarily limit the sharing of frequently touched objects, such as hymn books,

bulletins, prayer books, prayer mats or other items passed or shared among

congregants, and encouraging congregants to bring their own such items. If possible,

photocopying or projecting songs, and texts using electronic means.

 Modify the methods used to receive financial offerings/contributions. Encourage the use

of mobile money transfer. Where not possible, consider a stationary collection box

instead of shared collection trays or baskets.

7. TEMPERATURE MONITORING AND RECORD KEEPING

 Every house of worship is encouraged to put measures in place to monitor temperature

of the people coming to the houses of worship. Any person with temperature reading

37.5°c or more will not be allowed to enter in the place of worship. Temperature

monitoring will only be done by using appropriate devices like digital infrared

thermometer gun.  Caveat: None compliance to these guidelines does not include temperature monitoring

using digital infrared thermometer gun because of access and cost implications. Religious

leaders appeal to the government to assist places of worship with infrared thermometer

guns.

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 Records of people attending worship service will be kept safely by the religious leaders.

The list will contain at least; two names, allocated seat number, telephone number and

place of residence for each worshiper. Confidentiality will be maintained, however, the

information may be shared with health authorities for the purpose of contact tracing only

if need arises.

IV. MONITORING IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE GUIDELINES

Religious leaders with support of government administrators and health officials will be

responsible for ensuring these guidelines are implemented in their places of worship through the

following;

1. Every place of worship will establish a COVID-19 Response committee that will be

responsible of implementing the guidelines.

2. Health authorities will support in carrying out trainings for the religious leaders on these

guidelines at the ward level.

3. Religious leaders will work with the health officials and government administrators to

establish an all-inclusive COVID-19 Response committee at the ward level or sub county

level that will among other things monitor implementation of the guidelines in their

localities.

4. Religious leaders through their governing structures and umbrella bodies will establish a

framework for monitoring and evaluating implementation of these guidelines from time

to time.

V. NONE COMPLIANCE WITH GUIDELINES IN PLACES OF WORSHIP

Any place of worship that does not institute these public health and social measures as outlined

in the guidelines (except for temperature monitoring) to keep their community safe, the ward

COVID-19 committee may suspend gatherings in such place of worship for public safety until

when all the necessary plans are put in place.

N/B: These guidelines are only applicable in the current context of COVID-19 Pandemic and will

thereafter be null and void.

VI. UPDATING OF THESE GUIDELINES

The government and the religious leaders may update these guidelines from time to time based

on lessons learnt and prevailing circumstances.

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VII. REFERENCES

1. World Health Organization (WHO). Practical considerations and recommendations for

religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19, Interim

Guidance, 7 April 2020. https://www.who.int/publications-detail/practical￾considerations-and-recommendations-for-religious-leaders-and-faith-based￾communities-in-the-context-of-covid-19

2. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-

ncov/php/faith-based.html

3. Kenya Ministry of Health (19th March 2020). Guidance on Workplace Preparedness For Covid-

19.

4. Kenya Ministry of Health (24th April 2020). Protocol for management of restaurants and

eateries during the period of COVID-19 Pandemic.

5. Central Texas Conference Guidelines for Returning to In-Person Worship.

https://www.ctcumc.org/files/coronavirus+covid-

19/central+texas+conference+guidelines +for+returning+to+in-person+worship.pdf

6. Texas Attorney General. Guidance for Houses of Worship During the COVID-19 Crisis.

https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/images/admin/2020/Press/T

hird%20Revised%20AG%20Guidance%20for%20Houses%20of%20Worship%20During%2

0the%20COVID-19%20Crisis%20-%20Final.pdf

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VIII. ANNEX: RELIGIOUS LEADERS FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

Religious leaders will continue to provide “essential services” in the fight against COVID-19

through and not imitated to the following:

1. Providing COVID-19 education and addressing stigma: Religious leaders are among the most

trusted sources of information, as well as both pastoral, health, and social care in our

communities. The faith community members may trust and follow guidance about COVID-19

coming from religious leaders even more than if delivered by governments and health

authorities. Religious leaders also have a special responsibility to counter and address

misinformation, misleading teachings, and rumors, which can spread rapidly and cause great

damage. The religious leaders will ensure that accurate information is shared with

communities in order to reduce fear and stigma.

2. Keeping the community connected: Religious leaders will strengthen their communities and

combat self-isolation through regularly checking in on individual members, preferably via

phone. This is particularly important to account for individuals who may be living alone, who

are elderly, who have disabilities or are otherwise vulnerable.

3. Providing psychosocial support: Religious leaders will encourage their communities to take

steps to manage their stress and to keep up hope during such times of isolation, fear, and

uncertainty. The constant torrent of news reports about COVID-19 can cause anyone to feel

worried.

4. Responding to situations of domestic violence: An increase in domestic violence has been

reported particularly against women, children, and other marginalized people. Religious

leaders will actively speak out against violence and will provide support or encourage victims

to seek help.

5. Enhancing Social Safety Nets: Religious will continue to help others who need assistance.

Religious leaders and faith communities will promote the sharing of resources to provide for

those whose livelihoods are disrupted and who cannot provide for themselves and their

families.

6. Promoting Safe and dignified burial practices: Religious leaders help grieving families to

ensure that their departed loved ones receive respectful, appropriate funerals and burial

rites, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Religious leaders will work with health

authorities and families to integrate appropriate religious practices with burial and funeral

steps that reduce the chances of infection. Knowing how to safely plan and perform such

funeral services will both protect and comfort mourners and show respect for those who have

died without causing any infectious risk to the mourners.

7. Promoting ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, and peaceful coexistence during the

COVID-19 pandemic

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