Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
THE Bahamas Christian Council will make a decision this week on whether churches covered under its membership will continue to hold services amid the threat of a local COVID-19 outbreak.
Bishop Delton Fernander, BCC president, told The Tribune yesterday the important decision must be made soon, as church leaders should be in a position to inform their congregations by this coming Sunday.
“Well actually we are meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to talk about that,” Bishop Fernander said. “We also need guidance from the government’s task force as to whether or not the gatherings they want us to avoid include church congregations. This decision is not a simple one, as some of our member churches have international heads that have their own dictates sent to them that they must conform to. So that in itself is another thing.”
Bishop Fernander said it is almost impossible to totally shut down churches as there are a lot of variables that must be put into serious consideration.
“When we think about cancelling church, or not having church gatherings, we must consider things like we must bury our dead. This is something we are going to have to do,” Bishop Fernander continued. “There are also weddings, so shutting down is almost impossible.”
He indicated that as soon as a decision is made, the BCC will hold a press conference to announce its plan. This is expected to take place this week.
The BCC membership consists of the following denominations: Anglican Church (province of the West Indies); Roman Catholic Church; Assemblies of Brethren; Bahamas National Baptist Union; Greek Orthodox Church; Lutheran Church of Nassau; Methodist Church (Caribbean and the Americas); Pentecostal Church; Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Salvation Army.
On Sunday, health officials announced there was one confirmed case of COVID-19 in a 61-year-old New Providence woman. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has advised people who are sick to stay at home and avoid large gatherings.
“Large public gatherings have been shown to be linked to the widespread of COVID-19 in jurisdictions now recording large numbers of cases,” Dr Minnis said on Sunday during a national address.
So far there are more than 7,000 recorded deaths worldwide due to COVID-9, however more than 70,000 people who caught the virus have reportedly recovered. The World Health Organisation has declared it a pandemic.