COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says churches must not drop their guard but continue observing the highest levels of hygiene because the Covid-19 pandemic is still around and there could be other eventualities as well.

And Fr Chikoya says church leaders should be ambassadors of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, saying there is nothing demonic about it.

In an interview, Fr Chikoya urged churches to also seek other income generation platforms.

“Covid-19 affected how the church gathers, how the church provides pastoral care in times of mourning and all these visitations, the rituals that involve touching and all these were affected. Many churches depend on social income, and those are offerings and if people are not gathering, it means that is affected. And of course churches do employ people and in some churches, they had to let go of some people and that was not good. So basically it just showed that the church was not prepared like any other institutions for eventualities and the overall lesson was to ensure that churches also begin to run in such a way that it is financially stable, it’s possible today with technology,” he said.

“Initially, it was quite a challenge but people came on board, they are using social media platforms reaching more than the numbers that are gathered in the congregation and I think that’s somehow a positive. And fifth wave I think, what we have told the churches is that never again should we find ourselves caught flat-footed. So issues of sanitation, issues of hygiene, issues of ensuring that we maintain the surroundings that are befitting for people to use not just because of Covid but for any other eventuality.”

He said church leaders should ensure the highest levels of cleanliness at all times.

“So churches, they should keep in mind to ensure that these things are not done reactively but proactively. And so it’s not an issue to say, it’s done now, let’s not relax but we need to make sure that we maintain the momentum at the highest level of hygiene. We must be the models as Christian families and our homes must be the models of what is required so that at the end of day, we are also doing what we can, to the best of our ability and instead of leaving it to chance or external forces, that which we can do like ensuring that there is cleanliness, to ensure that we abide by the five golden rules at personal level, at household level, at congregation level, must be a thing that is enhanced without waiting for the health inspecting team to visit us,” he said

“We will motivate them to consider investing, to consider other sources of income. To begin to get involved in things that will supplement their income and help them in the event we have a scenario like the Covid-19. So those are some of the things, like the issues of hygiene should be enhanced, maintained and become a life-long commitment, that way, we will be able to at least mitigate and exercise in terms of challenges. They should invest beyond just having one source of income in terms of offerings and pre-sound messages. This is the message that should be taught because others will say it’s demons or whatever, that’s an issue that we constantly have to attend to”.

And Fr Chikoya said there was nothing demonic about vaccines.

“The other thing that we have been doing is that we are very involved in promoting the vaccination programme as CCZ. So we hope this would help to deal with matter in a sustainable manner because the more people get vaccinated, the less lethal the effect of Covid-19, and also the impact, and also the spreading will be minimised. So these are the programmes we are actively involved in. We are working with the Ministry of Health. We’ve had talks and I’m vaccinated myself, sometimes we encourage church leaders to be ambassadors of the vaccination campaign,” said Fr Chikoya.

“So these are some of the tangible things we are doing in terms of trying to make sure that we prepare for the fifth wave. So debunking the myths and misinformation around the issues of vaccination, this is a very critical and active assignment we are doing. And so the issues of talking about it being demonic and all those things of 666, what is injected is the physical body if you talk about 666, it talks about taking over your conscience, taking over your soul, the vaccination is not taking over our souls, that’s where people are missing a point, what is vaccinated is the body not the soul and therefore it is not correct to say once you are vaccinated, then my mind will start changing, I will hate Jesus Christ, I will turn into a monkey. Once again, God has not given anybody delegated power to start recreating a human being into something else.”