Photo: Albin Hillter/WCC, 2016

Photo: Albin Hillter/WCC, 2016

Leaders in the World Council of Churches (WCC) advise those wanting to attend religious gatherings to use information based on science and evidence and to respect authorities’ advice if we are to overcome the novel coronavirus COVID-19 afflicting humanity and growing into new areas such as Africa. The advice applies especially to meetings of people of any form which endanger people in most countries now.

Two medical doctors at the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr Mwai Makoka and Dr Manoj Kurian, provide answers to questions that people might have in these trying times for humanity, offering cautionary advice about the dangers to life that meetings can create.

Dr Makoka, from Malawi, is programme executive for Health and Healing at the WCC and Dr Kurian from Malaysia is the coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and they use their expert knowledge to advise the faith communities on how to react to the deadly virus.

The advice they offer also comes from the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom who  urge people and churches to give the highest priority to “doing whatever we can do to protect life”.

They “ask churches not to have public services tomorrow (22 March) as they can become hubs of transmission of the virus” and to follow strictly the rules and guidelines from authorities based on WHO guidelines.

Tveit and Abuom “commend to all of you the advice and practical recommendations offered by intergovernmental and governmental health authorities to help protect the vulnerable in our communities and others.”

The WCC doctors and leaders recommend those wanting to participate in prayer services to be mindful of the words the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, when he spoke to journalists this week.

“Don’t assume your community won’t be affected. Prepare as if it will be. Don’t assume you won’t be infected. Prepare as if you will be,” he said.

Tedros said physical distancing measures – like cancelling sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings such as religious meetings – “can help to slow transmission of the virus”.

"Overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic with faith communities: some guidance for churches" - questions and answers to medical doctors at the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr Mwai Makoka and Dr Manoj Kurian

For more information:

WCC resources in view of the Coronavirus