BY ALEX DADAMU
AMID growing concerns over the coronavirus, the Anglican Church of Melanesia is currently working on precautionary Measures under the advice from the Government and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
This was according to the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), Central Melanesia Diocese, Most Reverend Leonard Dawea in an exclusive interview with Sunday Isles Media on Thursday.
Most Reverend Dawea when elaborating on guidelines in place for parishes and members in the diocese with regards to precautionary measures to avoid contracting the COVID-19 said is looking to do away with some common practice observed in the ways worship is conducted.
“We are looking to do away or control shaking of hands as greetings after service as we will be on high alert to protect ourselves from possible transmission of the Virus,” the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia said.
One of the main decisions the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) has to deal with was the upcoming Easter Celebrations anticipated to be held on 12 April 2020.
Most Reverend Dawea said that all measures and options that will be taken are weighed in accordance with what the Government and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has advised.
“Anticipating if the COVID-19 reaches our shore before or during the holy week, it will be the next best option and a normal action to take – to discourage large gathering of people as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I will collaborate and discuss with other church leaders as to what are the other alternative options to take but to postpone the Easter Celebrations could be the next best option to take a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus assuming it reaches our shores before or during the holy week,” Archbishop Dawea said.
The ACOM Archbishop stated that there are going to be changed to normal worship and liturgical practices and he calls on all members to understand and accept the changes that are going to happen.
“I believe the church should remain strong in faith and without objecting the measures the government has put in place.
“We will reach the level that changes had to be made to the way we distribute Holy Communion and I understand that many people will stand on their faith and will still want to receive Communion but the first immediate step would be to put a restriction to the ‘Common Cup’ (Cup in which Holy Communion is served) and find other alternative ways in which Holy communion can be distributed,” Most Reverend Dawea said.
The ACOM Archbishop further reveals that the Anglican Church of Melanesia Education Authority in light of possible positive COVID-19 cases reported in the country will suspend classes and advise students to stay at home.
“I am not in the position to comment on this but what I can say is that other alternative options might not be possible and that is for students to continue classes online – we are not yet up to that level and standard,” Most Reverend Dawea said.
In the meantime, Archbishop Most Reverend Dawea calls on all leaders to continue discharge encouragement and words of hope to all citizens. He added the fear does not exclude the national leaders including the church leaders.
“I call on all Christians in Honiara to steadfastly hold our beloved country in prayer; for the victims of the virus, the scientists researching for possible cure and cessation of the spread of the virus.
“Continue to offer prayers to the Government and all people of this beloved country – we must be there to offer at least words of prayer and encouragement.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has last night Thursday 19th March announced a raft of additional measures to protect the country from Coronavirus one of which is the early closure of schools in Honiara and Guadalcanal to proceed on an early school break starting today Friday 20th March 2020.
“Students will vacate the boarding schools during the break whilst schools in the rest of the country will remain open until the schedule first-term school break.
“All schools will reopen in accordance with the April’s school calendar unless the situation changes then further decisions will be made,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the nation.