Bishop Ellis says church greater than “parking lot gig”

Bishop Ellis says church greater than “parking lot gig”
Bishop Neil Ellis

Mount Tabor will not offer drive-up service 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While some churches prepare for drive-up services, Bishop Neil Ellis of Mount Tabor Church said his house of worship is “greater than that” and will continue to deliver services to parishioners virtually.

“I thought I needed to do this in light of the orders that were released not to long ago,” said Ellis in a recorded video, which made the rounds on social media.

“I want to encourage all Mount Tabor ranks on this coming Sunday, please remain at home. We will not be doing the parking lot gig.

“We are greater than that,” he said..

“So, I want you to stay at home and I will be coming to you with my team in the same way we have doing over the last eight weeks. The parking lot, one hour service is not for us. Please stay at home and do what you have been doing these past eight weeks.”

Services were allowed to resume with restrictions on islands cleared to resume full commercial activity on Saturday.

On those islands, services may be held in the sanctuary though social distancing and hygiene protocols must be maintained.

These include Abaco, Andros, Long Island, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Rum Cay.

On islands, which remain in ‘Phase 1B’, including New Providence and Grand Bahama, services may only be held as drive-up service where attendees remain seated in their vehicles; services is limited to one hour; and only four people from the immediate household can be in one vehicle.

High-risk people and those aged 65 and older have been asked not to attend.

Notwithstanding inclement weather, scores of parishioners drove into the parking lots of Pilgrim Baptist Church on Kemp Road and Believers Faith Outreach Ministries on Carmichael Road to attend service on Sunday.

Other churches maintained their virtual services, including Bahamas Faith Ministries International, Bahamas Harvest Church and Mount Tabour.

However, BFM Senior Pastor Dave said the church will begin drive-up service next Sunday and broadcast the service in the parking lot.

BFM’s visual representation of drive-up service shown to parishioners this past Sunday

He when the government allows, the church will have limited capacity services of around 25 percent of its membership.

Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church will host a re-launch meeting next Sunday at 7pm with parishioners to outline the way forward toward reopening.

The drive-up service option is expected to be a key point of discussion.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said while the drive-up service is a good option toward the reopening of churches, he acknowledged the strong mixed reactions among Christian leaders.

Among the strongly opposed was Reverend Keith Alton Russell of First Baptist Church, who labeled the government’s restrictions on the resumption of church services “immoral and ungodly”.

He suggested some church leaders must be prepared to go to jail to show the government the church “can’t be played with”.

Additionally, General Superintendent Bishop Denczil Rolle said while the church supports the prime minister’s effort to curtail the pandemic, in this instance, the Christian Council must be trusted to establish the operational guidelines that will best allow for the protection of congregants, while not “compromising the sanctity of corporate worship”.

He said he was perturbed by the statement released by the Office of the Prime Minister outlining the drive-up worship, which he said should never be mandated by the state.