FRANCISTOWN: Local churches plan to adopt a vigilant approach to COVID-19 as they prepare to assemble and celebrate the Easter holidays.
Outgoing president of Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), Jobe Koosimile said in an interview that when preparing for the Easter celebrations they prioritised safety of the congregants.
He said about 15,000 members were looking forward to their national conference since it was long overdue.
Koosimile stated that they took a deliberate decision to divide their 102 branches into regions for mini conferences in order to cater for the COVID-19 restrictions.
“For instance, our three branches in Francistown thus Monarch, White City and Gerald will congregate in one place. Same goes to other regions nationally so that we can reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
He added the celebrations will be centred around giving all the glory to God by praising and praying for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Through the days, Koosimele believes that there is a chance for hope that God will provide all the answers for all the trials and tribulations they face in the world as Christians.
“The death of Jesus Christ gives us hope that we will be saved from all the situations we are facing such as COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence (GBV) and economic crisis,” the AFM outgoing president said.
For his part, Babylon Apostolic Church of Botswana, northern and Matebeleland leader Apostle Sizo Dibebe said their church will congregate in Palapye at Kgolagano College.
He also said they decided to temporarily abandon their natural venue at Serorome in order to cater for the COVID-19 health protocols.
He indicated that they wanted a huge venue that would cater for over 3,000 members who are expected to attend their Easter conference. So far he said their members are over the moon to attend the conference, which was last held in 2019.
Dibebe also stated that their programme starts on a Thursday with a reception prayer then on a Friday they will start by having a leadership plus National Executive Committee meeting.
“The purpose of the meeting would be to apprise leadership of the church about their church after COVID-19 and conclude issues of ordinations. Later during the day members would congregate for a special service of receiving sermons about how Jesus suffered on the cross and how we need to emulate him,” he said.
Other items on their programme include processes of the seven words spoken by Jesus on the cross and the Holy Communion. Dibebe highlighted that their message for the Easters is Jesus who died on the cross heals.
“This speaks to a situation where we found ourselves in the unprecedented times of COVID-19. That is when we saw the body of Christ, literally crying for help. We live today because he managed to heal us. That’s why we need to also remember how he suffered,” he added.
In addition, Francistown Methodist church’s Reverend Martin Maluleke said they are expecting close to 300 followers to grace the occasion.
He said that members are excited and looking forward to fellowshipping and worshiping together.
“The feeling is electrifying as we will be meeting for the first time in two years. Preparations for the holy week have been ongoing as we wait to host members of the circuit for the Easter holidays,” Maluleke added.
He shared that they are expecting all seven members of their circuit from as far as Kasane, Letlhakane, Matsiloje and Tati Siding to be here for the Holy Communion.
He stated that during the holy event, they will be adhering to all COVID-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, secretary general of Botswana Council of Churches, Reverend Gabriel Tsuaneng advised churches to prioritise the lives of their members during the Easter celebrations.
He encouraged all the churches that will be assembling for the same occasion to adhere to the COVID-19 health protocols.
Tsuaneng advised that the church leaders should make sure people wear protective masks, sanitise and social distance at all times to control the spread of coronavirus.
He emphasised that they have to do whatever it takes to protect lives as they are the defender and custodian of life hence they should avoid any opportunity for coronavirus to spread.
“My advice to each and every individual is for them to avoid attending Easter conferences so that we can each protect our lives,” Tsuaneng added.
He added that Easter celebrations are an opportunity that calls for collective prayer and while they are gathering they should make COVID-19 the agenda for their Easter conventions sessions.