The government of Grenada may have decisive information, which has not been disclosed to the general public but which has prompted Prime Minister Keith Mitchell to give an urgent message on Friday, 13th March 2020.
Although there may be strong indications of a serious threat to the people, there has not been a constitutional declaration of a national emergency because of the pandemic COVID-19 (Corona Virus).
However the Prime Minister’s message of a virtual lock-down of the country, impacting every household, sector, discipline and endeavour, generated intense anxiety, panic, suspicion, confusion and irrational reactions.
Noticeably, the spiritual strength and standard shepherding of the Grenada Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (GCSDA) have been exposed and tested.
The GCSDA seems to have buckled particularly under the Social Distancing recommended fight against COVID-19; requesting that all public and social gatherings such as cultural, religious, sporting and cinemas that cannot guarantee a minimum of six feet of social distancing, be suspended until further notice.
There was no clear and valid reason for the executive of GCSDA to “put a hold on church services until further notice with immediate effect”, of a mere few hours after the delivery of the national address and even when most of the several measures outlined by the Prime Minister is to take effect from Monday (March 16).
Indeed a hasty decision made by the Executive, without considering all factors and meanings, including the regular transportation and working spaces, as well as the official transactions and general welfare and sentiment of its members.
Unfortunately, since the announcements and warnings about the COVID-19, there has not been any set of advices or guidelines prepared and sent by the GCSDA to the various congregations, so as to mitigate and safeguard its members and the general public against the negative impact of an actual onset or confirmed case of the disease in Grenada; as this would be expected from a caring and responsible establishment.
Instead of putting the hold on Sabbath worship at the churches, the GCSDA should have encouraged a solemn service of Prayer and Fasting on Saturday, 14th March 2020, with special comforting and supporting to the members, and collaborative planning and formulating of pertinent alternatives and precautions.
Moreover, the Saturday session would have brought hope and joy on the revelations of End-time biblical prophecies, especially with focus and reflection on the lessons from the current study of the book of Daniel, detailing the set world’s empires.
In the interest of everyone and the nation, some relevant pointers for church worshippers especially the GCSDA, to be observed regarding the prevention of the spread and the hurt of the COVID-19 disease:
(1) All members should take Sabbath worship at their local church only. There should not be any visiting by members of other congregations.
(2). All members who are working in high risks areas, such as at the entry points (seaport and airport), the medical field and the tourist industry, should refrain from attending worship.
(3). All members who have travelled especially from high risk countries with the disease, or who have had physical contact with any such individuals including relatives, within the past three weeks should not attend church services.
(4). All members experiencing flu-like symptoms should not attend worship and handle any items of or to be used in the church, before consulting and getting clearance from a medical doctor.
(5). All members who are at high risk for contracting the disease, such as the elderly and those who are medically vulnerable, particular care must be taken and be given accordingly.
(6). All members who are attending church services should practice basic hygiene ethics and follow the medical guidelines provided by the government and other reliable health officials.
(7). Non-members or persons of the community wishing to join the assembly should be vetted and given the procedures and guidelines for worshipping. Members and non-members must be honest and accurate about their status and the information presented and adhere to the rules.
(8). Extra care and attention must be developed for collecting money, for rendering praise and testimony, for performing Communion and for general ushering and welcoming.
(9). The sitting arrangement must be adjusted and the programme or the order of worship must be adjusted to make possible, for example, shifted or staggered worship services accordingly.
(10). First Aid kits should be provided, including disinfectant spray, bleach, methylated spirit and other disinfecting or cleaning agents including wiping cloth. There should also be an adequate supply of toilet paper, face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitizers and running water.
(11). Promote, encourage and assist with the health message of the Adventist Church (particularly by Ellen G. White) in terms of herbal medication, spiritual meditation and dress code (‘all covered’).
(12). Mobilise and activate pertinent departments, medical experts, disaster personnel and counseling professionals. Practise humanity, extend neighbourly love and brotherly respects.
(13). Everyone should be alert and notify of any strange individual, action, condition and feeling.
How could a Christian denomination which claims that it is God’s remnant church and has the truth (Rev. 12 : 17), which champions the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels Message (Rev. 14 : 6 – 13), which promotes that we are living in the last days of perilous times (2 Tim. 3: 1 – 8) filled with diverse problems (Matt. Ch. 24) and which asserts that it is facing and preparing for the Mark of the Beast with the Sunday Law (Rev. 13 : 16 – 18), ceases from its Sabbath worship due to a notice for organised preparations against a disease?
Christians hold and preach that we are living in a sin-sick world and that the paradise of a new heaven and a new earth awaits for the faithful worshippers, yet the mounting fright and fuss about COVID-19 to the extent that the GCSDA abandons church service on its Saturday Sabbath day.
Other religions had most of their regular Sunday church services on March 15th, dialogued with their members and renewed their plea for a national Day of Prayer. Does it mean then that the GCSDA would be absorbed into the one day Sunday Sabbath worship by or for all peoples and religions?
Despite whatever analysis can be made for the origin, cause, goal and perpetuators of COVID-19, it should be clear to conclude that the aftermath of the pandemic will be a drastically new world socio-economic era of extraordinary paradigm with far-reaching changes, and of course political thrust.
The key features of the new reality and normality would be digital currencies, electronic transactions with artificial intelligence, virtual assemblies, biometric registrations and tracings with Personal Identification Numbers; all evolving toward uniform life processes under the United Nations and the universal Mark of the Beast under the papal system as biblically justified.
God will eventually come to reclaim His creation. Instructively, the trend relating to the introduction, necessity, dependence and indulgence of on-line worship and the use of Information Technology for important meetings including educational and business, is on a very dangerous slippery slope.
Whilst there would be a huge financial cost for the technological infrastructure, environmental damage and health complications with radiation, and status segregation of citizens based on affordability and accessibility, there is also significantly the carrot and addiction for smoothly accepting and worshipping the Mark of the Beast with the climax of crises.
What is the contextual understanding, application, condition and meaning by GCSDA of Bible scriptures such as Matt. 10 : 1 and Lk 9 : 1 – 2 having power over all devils and diseases, and 2 Tim. 1 : 7 and Ps. 91: 10 not having a spirit of fear; its stance has nothing to do with ‘being wise’.
It’s the prayer that the GCSDA is not of political subservience, poor discretion and weak spirituality.
Moreover; elders of the local churches should not appear to be puppets of GCSDA’s executive but must be independent to open the doors of their churches for all those who wish to find refuge and solace at this challenging time.
J. K. Roberts