The dynamics of Christianity in the “new normal”

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

While addressing journalists in a post cabinet briefing session on September 22, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had revised upwards church gatherings from 50 to 100.

“Churches must ensure that congregants continue to observe Covid-19 containment measures by enforcing the compulsory and proper wearing of masks, social distancing and washing of hands.”  Prior to this announcement, back in June, churches had been given the greenlight to meet with a maximum number of 50 congregants.

While some churches have resumed operations, others, particularly the big churches have found it difficult to resume operations as it is difficult to decide who comes in and who stays out.

However, with many other sectors of the economy now operating close to how things were before the Covid-19 era, Christians have called for the “non-essential” tag to be removed and for their gatherings to continue as usual.

One individual who has been pushing for the tag to be lifted is internationally renowned Ugandan clergyman, Prophet Elvis Mbonye who is gradually penetrating the Zimbabwean space via shows on ZBC TV.

In a sermon broadcast online, he challenged Christians to work their faith. “What we have witnessed lately is an attempt to relegate the knowledge of God to something that is not of essential value,” said Prophet Mbonye.

He challenged the notion of the ‘new normal’ saying it is in contradiction with the word of God. “You and I as well as the rest of the world know that that there is nothing more precious in this universe than the word of God.”

“The new normal being pushed is different from the world God created for us. In the world that God created there is no fear. I want to assure you that greater is he that is in us than is in the world. Satan has been crushed, fear is not our portion.”

In an interview with The Herald, African Apostolic Church publicity and information secretary Bishop Elson Tafa said they had resumed sermons although strictly guided by the stipulated health regulations.

“Our evangelists are the ones liaising with members on who comes and at what given time. We encouraged them to sanitise and follow all health guidelines to avoid any deaths,” he said.

United Family International Church (UFIC) spokesperson Pastor Prime Kufa said they were still closed and conducting virtual sermons.

“We command quite a huge following on all our branches across the country with the largest congregation having about 50 000 people while the least has 500 people.

“So obviously there is no way we can invite only 50 people out of 50 000. We will reopen when conditions are further relaxed,” he said.