With the COVID-19 pandemic having lasted longer than local religious leaders expected, some groups are redefining their plans to deal with restrictions, awareness and mutual support in new ways for some time. And while some religious and Islamic leaders have urged their herd to take the hit with COVID-19, others like Rastafarians are afraid.
“COVID-19 has revealed a paradox in worship,” says Pastor Charles Brevett, a respected voice of the Western Jamaica Seventh-day Adventist Conference. “When we were able to get together, a lot of people stayed home even though they weren’t sick, but now they are forced to stay at home, they yearn to come to church. “
There are more than 700 Seventh-day Adventist churches locally, with nearly 350,000 members, and although fellowship is a crucial component, the restriction in the number of worshipers has seen the church make greater use of its auxiliaries to provide emotional support and advice from the faithful.
“Due to COVID, we have to do a lot of legwork, call, network and organize support groups, so that we can stay on top of the situation,” says Brevett, a man of the web since 1985. “One of the challenges with the church is that people don’t go out and talk about their problems; they prefer to suffer in silence and I’m worried.
He admits the pandemic has outlived the church’s projection, which may force a review of its outreach strategies to relate to the new realities.
“We unwittingly had a timeline in mind,” he said. The gleaner. “We never expected that in September 2021, we would still be facing COVID, so the short-term measures that we had put in place need to be revamped…. We have to go back to the drawing board for the long haul. “
The use of social media in ministry was not new to Bishop Conrad Pitkin, the senior pastor of Assemblies of God at the Temple of Faith in Montego Bay, St James, who created Victory Hour On national television and the Faith Broadcasting Network on local cable, but the pandemic has brought challenges never before seen in his 47 years of ministry.
“People do not understand the kind of pastoral care that should be given to the ecclesial community. It goes beyond a simple religious service, ”said Pitkin, who is also the custodian of St James. “It was difficult; it puts mental pressure on the people who are at home.
Since the restriction imposed by the government for no more than 20 people present for the services, only the technical team is on site to manage the streaming on a Sunday for the more than 1,000 members.
Pitkin says the pastor must adapt to the new normal in his dealings with his constituents and must be sensitive to the needs of the total man. And, although operational expenses have increased significantly while contributions have declined, Pitkin says support for the needy in his congregation will continue.
Muslims urged for COVID vaccine, rastas fear jab
Tariq Azeem, imam of the Jama’at of Ahmadiyya Muslims, noted that Friday is the first day of worship, when a larger congregation meets to pray.
Traditionally, observant Muslims pray five times a day, side by side, but social distancing is now observed as they adhere to the government’s COVID-19 containment protocols.
“It is not obligatory for someone to go to the mosque if it is too far away. Prayer services can be performed at home, ”Azeem explained. “Other than that, we have our regular online meeting through Zoom on Friday, as well as classes for new converts every Sunday.”
Muslim leaders have started educating their members about the virus and the need to adhere to protocols from the initial stage of the pandemic, he said.
“‘We have to take this seriously” is the message that we have tried to convey to our members and guests who would come to visit us and, if possible, go for the vaccination if there are no health problems under. -jacent, ”Azeem said. The gleaner. “I got the vaccine myself as soon as people in my age group were cleared because we have to do what we can and fight it together.”
Revivalism is a colorful expression of worship that mixes different denominational beliefs with altered African practices, but the pandemic has put a damper on some of its rituals.
Bishop Sharon Grant Henry, popular revivalist and leader of the Mount Carmel Revival Mission Church in Port Maria, St Mary, has taken to social media with his program “The Church Online (UK) Daily Word”.
Grant Henry said that while she did not seek to influence her congregation to get vaccinated, she advised them to pray and make their own decision.
The Rastafarian community gathers mainly for the celebration, but although they do not support the use of the vaccine, members must adhere to established protocols.
“Rastafarians don’t take care of the vaccine, but sticking to protocol is a must,” said Lewis Brown, public relations manager for the Coral Gardens Benevolent Society. The gleaner. “Strengthening the immune system is a must and there are herbs available that help, but this vaccine… we are very afraid of it. “