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Tuesday,October 20,2020 16:42 PM

Churches suspend Easter celebrations

By Juliet Lukwago

Added 10th April 2020 02:29 PM

Churches normally organize different celebrations on Thursday during the Holy Week, including washing of the feet, which commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the institution of the Lord's Supper and established the ceremony known as the Eucharist.

Churches suspend Easter celebrations

Churches normally organize different celebrations on Thursday during the Holy Week, including washing of the feet, which commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the institution of the Lord's Supper and established the ceremony known as the Eucharist.

Rev. Fr. Edward Muwanga, the parish priest of St. Charles Lwanga Catholic parish in Ntinda, Kampala preparing for the ordinance of the washing of the feet, which commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples. This was on Holy Thursday, April 9, 2020, in an empty church since many Easter activities were suspended in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. Photo by Simon Peter Tumwine

COVID-19       CHURCH                 EASTER

In the face of the coronavirus scare, churches in Uganda have suspended all liturgical activities leading to or during Easter celebrations this year.

The declaration is in line with the Presidential directive banning all forms of public gatherings, including religious services to combat the spread of the virus. Uganda has so far recorded 53 cases of COVID-19.

Churches normally organize different celebrations on Thursday during the Holy Week, including washing of the feet, which commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the institution of the Lord's Supper and established the ceremony known as the Eucharist.

Other activities suspended include the way of the cross, Easter eve mass, and services as well as all Easter celebrations.

Holy Thursday is marked by the washing of feet and the last supper while Good Friday is the way of the cross, which climaxes the Holy week leading to Easter, the Biblical day Jesus resurrected.  

The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, has since called Christians in their home to memorize these days as families through reading scriptures and prayer.

 Rev. Fr. Edward Muwanga at the church entrance

"This day is very important, Jesus instituted Holy bread, this is where we get holy bread before his crucifixion, and this time is very unique due to COVID-19,  it will be marked in a different way, those who were ordained should gather with their immediate families at home, same as lay families," he stated in an interview on Wednesday.

The Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga also issued guidelines, including the suspension of the Chrism mass.

"Mass of the Lord's Supper shall be celebrated in the Cathedral in the evening at 4:00pm with our Parish Churches but without the faithful. However, they are invited to follow the ceremonies via electronic media," he said.

Lwanga declared Good Friday to be a day of intensive prayer and Fasting for all except those who are indisposed.

"I encourage all of you to observe these celebrations in your homes by following us via media. We shall have the way of the cross in our respective homes while the celebration of the Lord's passion shall be in the cathedral at 3:00pm, but restricted to only those invited," said Lwanga.

The Chairman of the Episcopal Conference, Dr. Joseph Anthony Zziwa said: "As a follow - up to our guidance on COVID-19, we provide further guidelines on liturgical celebrations during the Holy Week."

 Muwanga prepares the towel for the ceremony of the washing fo the feet

"Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy week without the presence of the people. The faithful, however, will be informed about the time for such celebrations, so that they can participate from their homes."

Zziwa said: "Whereas our physical churches are closed, our families remain open. We hope that the current challenge has given us believers the opportunity to recognize that each family is a domestic church."

He added that each family should, therefore, strive to evangelise itself and strengthen the faith of its members through daily prayers, bearing in mind what Jesus said. For where two or three are gathered, my name there I am in midst of them.

He said that it should be noted that the ban by the government on public gathering of more than 10 people is still in effect.

Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira, Namirembe Diocese encouraged Christians, saying even death could not hold Jesus captive. "Out of the grave, he arose. He overcame the powers of death and because of his victory, we have the confidence that we too shall overcome, one day," he said.

"Brethren, I pray that we continue to pray for the health givers, and whoever is involved in taking good care of us. Whether we are faced with COVID19 crisis or whenever we go to the different health centres for their care and treatment," he added.

 Rev. Fr. Edward Muwanga with the cup for Holy Communion. This symbolised Jesus' last supper

Bishop Joshua Lwere, the general overseer of the national fellowship of born again churches urged husbands and wives to utilize this time to mend fences in their marriages.

"Do not let this time pass without a renewed relationship. You normally get short holidays and go back to work. Consider this as God-sent to spend more time with each other. Maximize this time with your children. They rarely have enough of you. Allow them to enjoy your undivided attention," he said.

  The empty church compound

Citing the example of Jesus who observed the quarantine laws set out in Leviticus 13 and 14, Lwere also urged Ugandans to continue observing the 14 days of lockdown to avert the danger of the massive spread of the virus.

The Arcbishop of the province of the Church of Uganda the Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Kazimba Mugalu cautioned believers to not only focus on COVID-19 disease but also think of other killer diseases.

 Kaziimba at Namirembe Cathedral on Friday. Photo by Peter Saava

He said this while giving his Easter message at his home palace Namirembe.

 

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