Rev. Chris Okotie, the Senior Pastor of the Household of God Church, has kicked against new guidelines issued by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the gradual reopening of churches.
On Thursday, May 28, the president of CAN, Reverend Samson Ayokunle, released a statement, saying the government had given the association the go-ahead to draw up guidelines for worship in compliance with the COVID-19 containment requirements and submit it for approval.
Part of the guidelines as stated in his statement includes social distancing, washing of hands, checking of temperatures among others.
Reacting to the new guidelines, Okotie in a statement released on Sunday, May 31, said it is unbiblical to follow the rules in the house of God.
According to him, the church and Christians cannot bow to the idol called coronavirus, saying; ‘CAN is an amorphous organisation sustained by a Christian appellation.’
The cleric in the statement signed by his media adviser, Ladi Ayodeji, added;
It is bereft of any authority to speak on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ. Arrayed in Episcopalian vestments, they are the modern day Pharisees who arrogate divine honors to themselves. They have a form of godliness and yet hobnob Nicodemusly with enemies of the Lord Jesus.
The true ministers of the sanctuary must recognise CAN’s treachery and reprehensible Phariseeism. That which a man spits against heaven shall fall back upon his face. We shall not bow to the idol called coronavirus. Jesus is Lord.
Okotie also condemned CAN’s proposed recommendation of distancing in the seating arrangement in churches as ‘blasphemous infidelity’ and ‘desecration of the Church of Jesus Christ.’
He, however, said he was in support of social distancing ordered by the government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cleric explained that extending social distancing to churches would compel reordering of seating arrangements and determine the size of congregational worship per service.
Okotie argued that to accept such an arrangement was ‘to nullify the redemptive work of Jesus, which involves healing.’
The clergyman noted that no true minister of God would support such guidelines, adding that;
Healing is fundamental to the redemptive work of Jesus. To allow the idol of coronavirus to determine the scope of congregational worship in the house of God is an abomination of gargantuan proportions. No true minister of the gospel will succumb to such travesty of the faith.
This is a summary of my objections. I have sent this message hoping that you would respond as one who bears the burden of the cross of Jesus. I have restrained myself from making a public outcry of this desecration and profanation out of respect for you and the CAN hierarchy. But be assured that this position is transient.
It would be recalled that three weeks ago, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy, also slammed his fellow clergymen for agreeing with Federal government to regulate church activities due to the pandemic.