The Churches of Liberia have detested their abrupt closures on last Sunday morning, March 22, 2020, with the use of armed police as ‘regrettably shocking’, and said that the immediate closure of churches was not agreed upon during a recent meeting of the churches with the President and the Minister of Health.
A release by the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) said the council in ecumenical partnership with other para church groups, denominations and Christian organizations held a fruitful meeting with the President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah on the national status of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) in Liberia.
During the meeting, both parties agreed that given the current confirmed cases pronounced by the MOH and NPHIL, Churches will not be closed but will be encouraged to carry out multiple services, observe social distancing and keep all health protocols, the LCC said.
Signed by the President of the Liberia Council of Churches, Bishop Kortu K. Brown, the LCC release indicated that the meeting held on Friday, March 20, 2020 with President Weah brought together Heads of Churches and Leaders, the Government of Liberia, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Controls and Preventions (CDC) in Paynesville City.
The LCC furthered that the meeting with President Weah highlighted the severity of the Coronavirus and the threats it poses to the citizenry, as well as the critical role of the church in combating the pandemic and, saying that it was agreed in the meeting that the church will effect massive awareness campaign and organize fast and prayers to begin on March 25-27, 2020.
Following the success of the meeting with the President, the LCC release said heads of churches disseminated the results of the meeting to their various congregations admonishing them to fully comply with all recommended health protocols.
“Regrettably, on Sunday morning, March 22, 2020, armed police were seen at many churches enforcing a mandate from the Minister of Health ordering the immediate closure of churches. As a result of the police action, many services were disrupted. This was amazing and shocking,” the LCC said.
Consequent to this situation the LCC considered a “very unfortunate and alarming incident on Sunday, March 22, 2020,” Church leaders met on Monday, March 23, 2020 at an emergency called meeting and expressed the following, including the expression of the church’s gross dissatisfaction of the actions of elements of the police against peaceful worshippers who were observing the recommended health protocols.
The LCC said the church also recommended that communication to the churches be channeled through the leadership of the Liberia Council of Churches before actions are taken, and pointed out that the immediate closure of churches was not agreed upon during the meeting with the President and the Minister of Health
Besides, the LCC asserted that the church is cognizant of the consequences of the deadly coronavirus and is in support of every action to ensure public safety.
“We acknowledged the presence of the Justice Minister and the Inspector General of police at the meeting of church leaders today who officially apologized to the Church on behalf of the Government of Liberia for the embarrassment brought to the Church,” the LCC said.
The Liberia Council of Churches noted the representation of the government at the meeting of the churches yesterday also recognized the important role of the Church and its partnership with government and reiterated government’s commitment to freedom of religion and of worship.
“We are looking forward to continuing engagement with the government of Liberia in ensuring public safety including avoiding large gatherings at the churches,” the LCC stressed.
Meanwhile, the LCC is calling on all churches and Liberians in general to continue to observe the preventive measures, and said it is therefore encouraging all churches and the people of Liberia to continue to pray for the safety and wellbeing of the country.