The Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba, the Rector, IBRU ecumenical centre Agbarha-Otor, Delta state has opined that the most dramatic result or effect of COVID-19 on the worship, ministry and mission of the church is the unexpected shift of church services from in-person to online worship.
He made this known as he delivered his paper on “The effect of COVID-19 on the worship, ministry and mission of the Church” at the Abuja Diocesan Synod held at St. James Anglican Church, Asokoro, Abuja.
In his paper, Venerable Ireoba discussed the manifestations of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects, the response of the church and ways through which the church could strategize for the future, given the new realities.
According to him, “Many may not have contracted the virus or suffered the disease, but matters arising from efforts to combat it have touched every facet of human endeavour and changed the world and everything in it, including the worship, ministry and mission of the Church.”
He remarked that the pandemic brought to the fore, the extreme divergence of the beliefs of Christians concerning faith and divine healing; and the need for sound integration of science and faith in health-giving theologies.
The Rector, who noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the church to do ministry differently, added that the church needs to review the hygienic discipline and ethics of members and intensify her teaching ministry, not only on issues of faith but also on other topical and practical issues. He said the use of transfer and online transactions should deliberately be encouraged to allow members fulfil their financial obligations to the church and knowledgeable professionals should be engaged to assist the church in maximizing her digital and online presence. He urged the church, to train and re-train her ministers and ensure that they are conversant with the latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT); to review and strengthen the church’s care ministry and members’ welfare; and develop family unit ministry, where parents are empowered to be leaders.
The guest speaker explained that God expects the church to assist the needy and vulnerable. Therefore, he urged the church to reflect God’s concern for His people and stand up for the oppressed and suffering. He encouraged the church to be prudent in financial management and think of other ways of diversifying its fund generation, rather than the usual dependence on members’ contributions.
The Ven. Princewill Ireoba charged the church to engage in holistic mission, because according to him, God has called the church to minister to the “whole inhabited world” and not just to Christians. He explained that Christians must be part of the rebuilding of the economy, communities and cities and not abstain from any part of the development process.
He said, “As we engage in the holistic mission, we give the hungry, thirsty, and dark world a holistic vision of a God who cares about their soul, their personhood, and their vocation. People still need Jesus more than ever, but they need a complete Jesus, not an incomplete one.”