NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Great Commission Ministries President Bishop Walter Hanchell has suggested the government has prioritized businesses promoting vices over the church, as he joined calls for the prime minister to lift restrictions.
“The concern that the church has is the way the country is being opened up,” Hanchell said, in a statement today.
“Almost every type of business including liquor stores and gambling houses have been permitted to operate before the church.
“The church is an essential service in The Bahamas and should be given priority over businesses that promote vices.”
Hanchell said: “I call on the competent authority to please sir, reconsider your treatment of God’s Church. Allow the doors to open freely with safety guidelines. It is the right thing to do.
“Almost every type of business, that are not essential services, are being opened, while the church lingers,” he said.
The resumption of worship services is slated for Phase 2 of the government’s plan to ease restrictions and reopen portions of the economy.
A 24-hour curfew and closure of international and domestic borders has been in place since March 23.
Churches canceled services and closed their doors just days later.
Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said parishioners can expect a “new norm” once restrictions are lifted.
Fernander suggested the new protocols will see churches discourage high-risk parishioners, the “very young and the very old, and those with underlying co-morbidities”, from attending services.
Churches will occupy around 30 percent of their space, implement six feet markers at entrances, and consider seating arrangements, he said.
Sanitizing stations will also be established, and churches will ensure members continue to wear masks during worship.
Today, Hanchell added: “May God protect the Bahamas. May COVID-19 new cases end.
“May the public follow the health regulations in this crisis and practice social distancing, wearing clean masks and keeping hands cleaned.”
He continued: “May our economy be revived and may people returned to their jobs. May food and shelter be made available to every person residing in the Bahamas in Jesus name.
“Finally, may God bless the government and people of the Bahamas.”