Vijayawada: Christian leaders of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have requested the Central and state governments to reopen places of worship immediately. During an online meeting of the Andhra Pradesh Christian Leaders Forum (APCLF) held on 28 May, they discussed the government’s decision to shut down churches while at the same time lauding its fight against COVID-19.

The chairman of APCLF, Oliver Rayi, said they strongly believe that India has a rich tradition of worship and is home to many deities of various faiths and at times such as this it is their faith that gives people solace and peace.
During the meeting, the leaders took cognizance of the statements made by the Chief Ministers of a few states who have expressed their willingness to reopen places of worship. They also adopted guidelines (SOPs) for the reopening of churches formulated by the APCLF and resolved to ask the government to adopt the same.

Oliver Rayi said the SOPs are in line with the guidelines of the WHO and also incorporates SOPs for Holy Communion Service and other Church-related activities. The leaders requested the government to reopen places of worship so that people can seek divine intervention in their fight against COVID-19. They said governments and scientists need God’s wisdom and the prayers of the masses at this time.

During the meeting, church heads from across Andhra Pradesh unanimously adopted the appeal of US President Donald Trump which read “…Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. Millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life. The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now…”

The online meeting was hosted by Oliver Rayi and was attended by vice-chairman Rev. Joseph Moses; Most. Rev. Dr. Govada Dyvasirvadam, former moderator and bishop Emeritus of Krishna Godavari Diocese, Church of South India; Rev. G. Bhagavandas, president of Indian Pentecostal Churches, AP; Bishop Pratap Sinha, president of AP State Pastors Fellowship; Rev. G. Joseph Raju, secretary of CBCNC; and Rev. Juhani Hallonen, the AP state president of AICC.

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