IT’S NOT US: Church leaders say they’re not to blame for COVID spikes; insist health protocols being followed

IT’S NOT US: Church leaders say they’re not to blame for COVID spikes; insist health protocols being followed
(FILE)

 

“Let us not allow the secular community to focus the whole COVID-19 spread on the church”

Moxey: There’s been dialogue between the church and the government that the public was not privy to

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Churches should not be blamed for recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, according to several prominent Bahamian pastors, who insisted they have been adhering to safety protocols since the start of the pandemic.

Bishop Delton Fernander, president of the BCC, in a recent interview with Eyewitness News, urged the Bahamian Christian community to “be careful as we see the numbers rising”.

Bishop Delton Fernander.

“Let us do our best to protect each other and not allow the secular community to focus the whole COVID-19 spread on the church,” he said.

Fernander previously endorsed the integration of technology in church services as a means to help diminish the spread of COVID-19 in the church community.

Last year, as he was re-elected head of the BCC, he stated that “it is [his] intent to assist and encourage the council and churches to effectively integrate technology into the routine communications and outreach efforts”.

Pastor Mario Moxey.

When reached for comment, Pastor Mario Moxey, chair of the Bahamas Christian Council’s (BCC) COVID-19 Investigation Committee, told Eyewitness News: “From the onset, the government started to meet with the Christian leaders, and as a result of [those meetings], both government and church leaders felt as though the wise thing to do was to close the doors to in-person services and just have virtual online services only.”

He added that the BCC had long met with government officials to discuss the local church community’s role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

“From the onset, this was March 2020, the government sought to meet with Christian leaders and this was at the very first week of the first case in The Bahamas,” Moxey said.

“There’s been dialogue that has transpired between the church and the government, whether it was in a group setting or on a one-on-one basis.

“[The general public] is not privy to the conversations. They’re not privy to the meetings that are being held.”

Moxey gave a detailed overview of the “touchless environment” at his ministry and his COVID-19 mitigation plan, which includes but is not limited to a reservation system for church services, a QR code for access to a digital worship guide and sermon notes as well as the installation of UV lights in the air conditioning system to disinfect the air.

His congregants are advised to wear masks and utilize hand sanitation stations as well.

Senior Pastor Dr Dave Burrows.

Dr Dave Burrows, Bahamian author and senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries, whose main sanctuary boasts a pre-pandemic seating capacity of 1,200, admitted that having a “sizable congregation” comes with a heightened sense of responsibility and said he has thus combined “professional consultation with prayer and spiritual guidance”.

He filmed a series of videos, which have been uploaded to his Youtube page, detailing COVID-19 measures and providing pertinent vaccination information for his congregation.

Burrows, who could not confirm his vaccination status to Eyewitness News, said he has not directly advised his congregation to either take the vaccine or reject it, however, he maintained that he is not opposed to inoculation and recognizes it as a “common scientific principle”.


Written by Eyewitness News Intern Gabrielle Sterling