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Churches Struggle to Contain Crowds of Prayer Thirsty Worshipers Amidst COVID-19 Restrictions

Hundreds of Christians thronged different churches for the third congregational prayer service since the government partially lifted the suspension on congregational prayers because of the COVID-19 the pandemic. At St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe Diocese, many congregants were asked to return home or stand outside and register for the next service because of restrictions on the number of worshippers.

While lifting the suspension of congregational prayers, president, Yoweri Museveni limited the number of worshippers in each prayer service to 70 people to allow for social distancing. Unlike other churches which book by phone or via the internet, at Namirembe cathedral worshippers are on a first-come, first-serve basis and give numbers. Once the figure clocks 70, the registration is closed and the new arrivals are either asked to return home, wait for the next service, or follow the prayers on social media platforms.

However, some of the congregants couldn’t have any of this, saying they should be given special consideration, which would violate the government restrictions. Rev. Samuel Muwonge, the head of Missions and Evangelism in Namirembe Diocese who led the service asked Christians to bear with the current conditions, saying all faithful are bound to face similar challenges like the ones, the church is going through.   

The situation wasn’t any different at Rubaga Cathedral where congregants were also registered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Other congregants were asked to wait outside or return home once the number of those registered clocked 70 people.  

Unlike before the COVID-19 pandemic where the cathedral doors would remain open throughout the service, ushers would close the doors immediately the required of worshippers gets in.

Dr. Fr. Richard Mwebe who led one of the 9 masses of the day, called on believers to pray while calling for Hail Mary’s intercession in any problem bothering them as individuals, their neighbors, and the world at large.

He also urged believers to use the same opportunity to ask God for peace and tranquility in their homes, neighborhoods, and the country as it heads to the 2021 general elections.

At Pastor Jackson Ssenyonga’s Christian Life Church Bwaise, the story was different altogether as crowds of worshipers thronged the church premises and hundreds were allowed in.

Although the church officials tried to test the temperature of the worshipers at the entrance, they were overwhelmed by the crowd outside the church.

At the end of the first service, there was a struggle at the entrance as Christians who have camped outside fought to have their way into the church for the next service.

The church administration declined to comment, saying only Pastor Ssenyonga, who was busy preaching could speak for the church.