LUSAKA Ministers Fellowship chairperson Christopher Kabunda says the COVID-19 pandemic also caused some members to backslide because they could not fellowship with others at church anymore.

And Bishop Kabunda says the pandemic brought some levels of poverty in churches.

In an interview, recently, Bishop Kabunda said lack of regular fellowship with like-minded christians made some church members backslide, adding that pregnancies out of wedlock were also on the rise.

“We saw a number of people backsliding because they cannot go to church anymore. And so they began to associate themselves with wrong things and we also saw pregnancies happening and because morals would decay because they are no longer hearing on a daily basis the word of life. And so that also brought that negative effect in terms of people backsliding. Some resorted to drinking because that brother who used to strengthen them is no longer coming for fear of COVID. That sister who used to visit them they can’t be allowed anymore because of COVID,” Bishop Kabunda said.

And Bishop Kabunda said some churches had actually been closed as a result of the pandemic.

“Generally speaking, everywhere where this disease has been mentioned it has always had some negative effects. And on the body of Christ, it has brought some poverty in churches. And some churches have actually been closed since as a result of the same pandemic that is still with us today. As Lusaka Ministers Fellowship, I had to renegotiate at one point with the registrar of societies to reason with them and then push in for an amnesty even for paying some annual returns. My reasoning was how do they pay when they are closed for a year? Where do they get their resources from because they are not gathering,” Bishop Kabunda said.

“The registrar general herself has actually extended the amnesty for this year until this year May month-end just to allow the churches to pay annual returns and keep on following the guiding principles and rules. It is working very positively for the church and they are going slow now but I think they are managing to pay back.”

He said during the peak of the pandemic, instead of closing the church completely, the churches under the fellowship resorted to home meetings.

“However, people like us, I think by the grace of God, our church we never closed. We stopped meeting like together but we continued meeting in houses. We identified mature families that would invite maybe just one other family and minimise the number to just about maybe 10 people within the same catchment. And so, that allowed the fellowship to keep going for that period of time when the church was closed. I think it was about three months. So we lived normal, everything went on as normal, our prayers kept going and we kept souls alive,” Bishop Kabunda said.

“You will recall very well that the beginning of the church was not in big venues. The beginning of the church was actually in houses, from house to house. I saw an integration of people because of fellowshipping together they ended up having a cup of tea together by the host. Some of them would have dinner together by the host. And so it became much more binding as opposed to separating the church.”

He said for some churches, they closed completely.

“But for others, they didn’t get that wisdom (meeting in homes) and so they just closed. And until now they are struggling because they can’t get back more so that some of them were meeting in schools. And from that moment we didn’t see government opening arms to allow the churches to renegotiate to get back to schools even when there is now normal Covid in those schools because of disinfection and the system that they put in place to see to it that the schools are safe. So these churches could have benefited but they can’t get back there anymore,” said Bishop Kabunda.