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Lockdown has taught us to save-religious leaders

By Pascal Kwesiga Eddie Ssejjoba

Added 25th June 2020 04:16 PM

After the lockdown, Ongeng said the church leadership will have to evaluate its priorities and make an effort to spend its resources sparingly.

Lockdown has taught us to save-religious leaders

Joseph Sserwadda

After the lockdown, Ongeng said the church leadership will have to evaluate its priorities and make an effort to spend its resources sparingly.

By Pascal Kwesiga and Eddie Ssejjoba

The nationwide lockdown has reinforced the value of saving in religious institutions. This was revealed by religious leaders after President Yoweri Museveni on Monday maintained the measure of keeping churches and mosques closed as part of efforts to fight COVID-19.

"The Christians are the major source of finance for the church. I am not saying the church has not been saving, but the lockdown has reinforced our appreciation that saving is a very important aspect of stewardship," the Church of Uganda provincial secretary, the Rev. Can. William Ongeng, said.

Muhammad Ali Waiswa

Ongeng said the lockdown has deprived church employees of finances, but it has also provided lessons on how to use the available resources sparingly.

He noted that although Christians are missing out on the "spiritual intimacy" that they share when they meet, their leaders will continue to comply with the Government measures.

"We used to send our children to schools and we did not know how they were fed. Now the children are with us, and they are going nowhere. We have to feed them," he added.

 Ongeng said clerics whohave been affected most by the lockdown are those who operate in urban areas, while those in rural areas have land to cultivate.

"We have to readjust our priorities and save the little we have for any eventuality. I predict that COVID-19 has come to stay. It is a visitor that has come to stay with us. We just need to plan to live with the visitor," he added.

After the lockdown, Ongeng said the church leadership will have to evaluate its priorities and make an effort to spend its resources sparingly. 

The presiding apostle of the Born Again Church in Uganda, Joseph Sserwadda, said it was "too early" to make a comment about the implications of the lockdown on Christians.

"It is too early. Everyone is locked down. I have not been to any church. I am unable to make a comment," he added.

Media channels The other silver lining to the pandemic that the church has exploited is the use of various media channels to preach, according to Ongeng. However, the downside to preaching through media channels is that a substantial number of Christians have no access to some of the communication platforms, he added.

However, Ongeng said there are other values that the oronavirus has instilled in the population and these will remain alive for a long time, such as handwashing, personal hygiene and sanitising. "It will no longer be rare to find handwashing facilities at churches. People are now carrying small bottles of sanitizers in their pockets," he added.

Ongeng also said church leaders will engage the President and the relevant Government institutions to agree on what could be done to hasten the reopening of places of worship.

"You could open the churches and say the number should not exceed 100 per service," he observed.

Ongeng said there could be two possible scenarios after places of worships reopen. They will overflow with worshippers or services will be poorly attended since some people could adopt a life without regular fellowship.

Arcade owners to comply Meanwhile, Godfrey Kirumira, the chairperson of the Kampala Landlords Association, said their members recently engaged with the trade minister, Amelia Kyambadde, and agreed to comply with conditions set by the Government.

Hammis Kiggundu, the owner of Ham Enterprises, said most arcade owners are willing to fulfil the conditions set by the Government before reopening. Kiggundu added that they are also making efforts to work with the Police and trade ministry in the implementation of public health measures.

The conditions include decongesting the premises, with a maximum number of three people per shop, social distancing of two metres between shop attendants and removal of hawkers from the corridors.

Others are staircases, makeshift shops, demarcating points where buyers should stop, while being attended to and serving one client at a time.

They also added increasing the number of support staff, such as guards, at the entry and exit points with temperature guns, sanitising gates, floors, doors and washing facilities, as well as stopping food vendors and hawkers in arcades, wearing face masks and stopping the use of arcades as passages between streets.

Drake Lubega and Mansoor Matovu alias Young, both of whom own arcades in the city, said a number of measures are being implemented and arcade owners are waiting for the green light to reopen.

Sudhir Ruparelia, who owns several commercial buildings, said all measures demanded by the Government have been put in place and landlords are waiting for the trade ministry to inspect the premises ahead of the reopening.

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